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KID-FIT Chicago Fights Childhood Obesity

By Megan Tempest in Food on Feb 11, 2010 7:00PM


The American Academy of Pediatrics has declared one in every three children in the U.S. is overweight or obese. The Center for Disease Control estimates that childhood obesity has tripled in the past 30 years. Among children aged 6-11 years, the obesity rate increased from 6.5% in 1980 to 19.6% in 2008. The impact of this obesity “epidemic” is far reaching. Obese kids are at increased risk for multiple health problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer, as well as poor self esteem and psychological problems. On Tuesday, First Lady Michelle Obama officially launched "Lets Move", a multi-faceted campaign intended to provide healthier food in schools, encourage children to be physically active, and make healthy, affordable food available to all children. Northfield-based Kraft Foods and the Sara Lee Corporation in Downers Grove are among the 40 companies that officially pledged to support “Lets Move” by promoting healthy eating.

Chicago-resident Lannette Wolford, owner of KID-FIT Chicago, is already planting the seed of positive lifestyle behaviors and good nutrition among our city’s preschoolers. KID-FIT tackles the childhood obesity crisis by incorporating physical movement, proper nutrition and education about different parts of the body. The ultimate goal of KID-FIT is to help parents get their preschoolers moving, learning, and laying the groundwork for healthy lifestyles later in life. We asked Wolford to fill us in on what KID-FIT is all about.

Chicagoist: Tell us about your background and why you started KID-FIT Chicago?

Lannette Wolford: I have a Bachelor of Science in physical education from DePaul University, ACE personal trainer, and AFFA group Exercise instructor.
I became a KID-FIT Licensee because I wanted to be the one to help bring this wonderful program to Chicago. There are very few activity programs out there for children of this age group. With childhood obesity at an all time high we really need to focus on prevention of obesity before it occurs. By teaching children early they will have a better chance at a healthy lifestyle as an adult.

C: Describe a typical KID-FIT session?

LW: A KID-FIT class is basically a group exercise class for preschool children with an educational component added in. We begin each class with 3-5 minutes of pre-class instruction on the particular topic (heart, lungs, eyes and ears etc). Then the activity portion of the class consists of a warm up, balance activity, sports skill, cardio, upper body strength, lower body strength, abs, stretch, post class instruction (review) and then relaxation. At the very end of the class children always get some kind of reward such as a sticker, hand stamp or coloring sheet.

C: What has the response, from kids and parents, been to your program?

LW: The response is overwhelmingly positive. I have had several parents tell me that their child loves to come to school on KID-FIT day. The children love learning about their bodies and have a great time exercising. One little girl keep saying...”I can do it cuz I'm a BIG girl" cute. Children are more alert and focused after a session of KID-FIT and are able to tell the differences between healthy food and "sometimes food."