Florida Promotes National Program For Exercise, Healthy Eating

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Florida agriculture officials are supporting a dairy industry-led program that tries to encourage children to become more physically active at school and eat more healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains and low-fat and fat-free dairy products.

In an April 12 event at the state capitol, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson joined National Dairy Council representatives and Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Rashean Mathis to kick off the Florida portion of the “Fuel Up to Play 60” national program designed to help reduce childhood obesity through better nutrition and physical fitness at local schools.

Though the program doesn’t include participation by any Florida produce organizations, Terrance McElroy, spokesman for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Tallahassee, said the commissioner has personal reasons for supporting the effort.

“As a grandfather of two, he is personally very alarmed at the lack of fitness amongst students,” McElroy said. “There is talk that one in two kids 10 years and younger is overweight with something like one out of three overall overweight or obese. That would have been unheard of a generation ago when kids would go out and play ball and ride their bicycles. It’s the lack of proper nutrition and exercise they are trying to tackle through this program.”

The program has the dairy industry providing $5,000 grants to schools to tailor their own activities, McElroy said.

He said the agency isn’t planning any of its own programs or promotions but plans to support the effort.

Schools and young people can sign up for the program at fueluptoplay60.com which provides participating schools wellness kids which include recommended healthy eating strategies and other promotional materials.

The youth-driven program aims to have children and teenagers taking charge of their health by working with school officials to create opportunities for an hour’s worth of daily exercise as well as healthy eating, according to a dairy industry news release.

Last fall, the National Dairy Council rolled out the program, which includes support from the National Football League, with additional activities this winter and spring.

Source: Doug Ohlemeier, Eastern Editor



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