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Hospital helps trim childhood obesity with nutrition & dance classes

New Britain [February 18 2010] - Zumba dance moves partnered with nutrition tips are a great duo toward good health for several New Britain families participating in a community-based program that inherently backs the new “Let’s Move” campaign begun by first lady Michelle Obama to help stop the childhood obesity epidemic.

On Feb. 2, The Hospital of Central Connecticut and Human Resources Agency of New Britain, Inc. (HRA) Head Start began an eight-week program of nutrition and dance classes aimed at encouraging healthy diet and exercise habits for children who are obese or at risk of becoming obese, and their families. Classes are at the New Britain Head Start main site, 180 Clinton St.

During the Tuesday afternoon nutrition class, HCC registered dietitian Kari King teaches parents and grandparents, through a Spanish interpreter, about fats, healthy dining out, the food guide pyramid, food groups, and portion control. Then, about 40 kids, parents and grandparents enjoy the Zumba dance class that follows under the lead of Loreen E. Gawel, a certified Zumba instructor and coordinator of HCC’s New Britain Asthma Initiative.

This session of classes follows two held last year by HCC, Head Start and YMCA of New Britain-Berlin. The classes evolved from HRA’s Head Start Nutrition Subcommittee and are funded by HCC’s New Britain Asthma Initiative. Head Start, a federally funded preschool program for low-income families, identified program children, ages 3 to 5, who are obese or at risk of becoming obese and invited parents to the classes, also open to other parents who express interest.

Gawel, a Nutritional Subcommittee member, says the classes are a good way to introduce good nutrition and exercise at an early age. “We just wanted to make an impact early in their life before their weight got out of control. For children whose weight was excessive, we wanted to show parents that they could make a difference, that it’s not too late.”

Elena Trueworthy, Head Start special services senior manager, says while many Head Start programs offer general nutrition education and awareness for adults, this combined community program links nutrition with exercise for the whole family.

It also aligns with aspects of the Let’s Move campaign, a four-part initiative aimed at tackling childhood obesity through measures that, according to the campaign’s Web site, include providing help parents need regarding healthy choices, and offering more ways to get children to be physically active. The hospital has joined Partnership for a Healthier America, a foundation that will join public and private organizations in combating childhood obesity; Obama is honorary chair.

Contact: Kimberly Gensicki, (860) 224-5900, X6507














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