UF hosts new program to help overweight children in Alachua County

The University of Florida is offering a new weight management program geared toward the families of overweight children in Alachua County. The program, Fun & Fit Families, is a family based lifestyle intervention that allows children and parents to work together to make healthy dietary and physical activity changes in their lives.

“The earlier we’re able to deal with obesity, the more successful we will be,” said Janet Silverstein, M.D., a professor of pediatric endocrinology. “A program such as this that can address lifestyle change and discuss issues in a group setting is much more effective than trying to provide counseling in a clinic setting.”

 Fun & Fit Families is a collaboration of three UF colleges, including the College of Medicine, the College of Public Health and Health Professions and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. The effectiveness of the program on children’s heart disease risk factors, including dietary intake, physical activity and blood vessel stiffness will be studied by Silverstein, principal investigator, and David Janicke, Ph.D., an associate professor of clinical and health psychology. Results will be used to continually improve the program with the long-term goal of expanding its reach.

The program will focus on children who are overweight and obese by helping families make gradual changes in their choices and manage real-life situations. Fun & Fit Families, which is free to families who qualify, is designed for children ages 8 to 12 with an above-average body mass index based on age and gender norms. Ideas for snack preparation and physical activity are provided at every session for both parents and children, emphasizing the opportunities to eat healthy snacks and highlighting fun ways to stay physically active.

“This type of family program has been the most successful, as it focuses on helping parents and children work together in a supportive, fun environment to make changes for the entire family,” Janicke said.

The 16-week program will begin at the end of April. Families will meet weekly for eight weeks and then bi-weekly for eight weeks at the Southwest Advocacy Group Family Resource Center at 807 SW 64th Terrace. There will also be four participant assessment visits throughout the program at the same location.“Hosting Fun & Fit Families in Gainesville makes it easily accessible,” said Silverstein. “It is our hope that the groups will continue to meet after the program ends to offer continued support and motivation to each other.”

The program, which is funded by the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Community Access to Child Health program and the UF Department of Pediatrics, is now recruiting participant families. For more information and to register for the program, call 352-334-1399.

About the Author

Peveeta Persaud

Marketing Coordinator, UF Health Communications, Department of Pediatrics

Peveeta Persaud, APR., joined the UF Health Communications team in 2012, serving as marketing coordinator for the University of Florida's Department of Pediatrics.

Peveeta graduated from the University of Central Florida, magna...Read More