Putting Education Reform To The Test

Miami-Dade Schools Launch New Program To Battle Childhood Obesity


Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho

Miami-Dade County Public Schools are beginning an in-school pilot program to educate fourth graders on nutrition, physical well-being and the appreciation of cultural diversity.

The program is in partnership with the nonprofit Common Threads.

The obesity program is one reason Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho will be honored this week for his work fighting childhood obesity in schools.

Carvalho, who’s been superintendent for four years in Miami, will be honored at Common Threads’ annual World Festival event tomorrow in Miami’s Design District.

Miami-Dade schools have a plan for a pilot program in select schools that will include 20- to 40-minute interactive lessons. The content incorporates Common Core State Standards in math and English.

The program is known as Small Bites. Fifteen lessons are incorporated into the regular school day once or twice a month.

The idea is to give teachers an innovative way to support the Common Core while teaching students how to live longer, healthier lives.

Linda Novick O’Keefe, Executive Director of Common Threads, called the obesity issue a growing public health concern.

“Miami-Dade County Public Schools has long demonstrated a strong commitment to innovative educational programming,” O’Keefe said, “and we look forward to working with Superintendent Carvalho in the expansion of our programs through this in-school pilot.”

Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control:

  • Childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years.
  • Overweight and obesity are the result of “caloric imbalance”—too few calories expended for the amount of calories consumed—and are affected by various genetic, behavioral, and environmental factors.
  • Overweight and obesity are associated with increased risk for many types of cancer.
  • Obese youth are more likely to have risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure. In a sample of 5- to 17-year-olds, 70 percent of obese youth had at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
  • Schools play a particularly critical role by establishing a safe and supportive environment with policies and practices that support healthy behaviors. Schools also provide opportunities for students to learn about and practice healthy eating and physical activity behaviors.

Common Threads was created in 2003 to educate children on nutrition and physical well-being. The nonprofit organization also provides after-school programming for kids ages to 8 through 12 years old.


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