Children’s Wellness Summit to address childhood obesity in Ocean State


Ocean State leaders – innovators in the fields of education, government, business and health care – will attend an all-day Rhode Island Children’s Wellness Summit July 25. Organized by Rhode Island First Lady Stephanie Chafee, an honorary Shape Up RI chairperson, and Shape Up RI Founder and Chairman Rajiv Kumar, M.D., the summit is one day of thought and action designed to promote comprehensive wellness among children through a statewide engagement campaign that promotes physical activity, healthy eating, conservation, reading and good citizenship. The Hassenfeld Family Foundation is the event’s lead sponsor. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island is also a major sponsor of this event.

Rhode Island Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Roberts and Peter Andruszkiewicz, president and CEO of lead Shape Up RI sponsor Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island, will be among the attendees. East Providence native Theresa Moore, director of the documentaries “Third and Long: The History of African-Americans in Pro Football, 1946-1989” and “License to Thrive: Title IX at 35,” will deliver a talk on expanding physical education programs in public schools.

The summit, which is not open to the public, will be held at the Squantum Club in East Providence.

Shape Up RI, the most successful statewide healthy eating and weight loss competition in the nation, has helped more than 75,000 Rhode Island adults decrease weight and related health conditions by increasing physical activity and eating more fruits and vegetables. Shape Up RI Founder and Chairman Rajiv Kumar, M.D. believes his Shape Up Kids program can have the same impact on elementary school students.

“This event will be an unprecedented gathering of Rhode Island community and business leaders,” said Dr. Kumar. “Experts from a diverse array of disciplines concerned with childhood health and wellness will all be heard at the Rhode Island Children’s Wellness Summit.”

In September 2009, Dr. Kumar designed a Shape Up Kids prototype program called “Walk the World” in order to take on youth inactivity in Rhode Island. Equipped with digital pedometers, three fifth-grade classes – one each from Paul Cuffee School in Providence, Veterans Memorial Elementary School in Central Falls and St. Andrew’s School in Barrington – tested the elementary school application of Shape Up RI's model in three learning environments: charter, public and private, respectively.

Dr. Rena Wing, director of the Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center at the Miriam Hospital, and researchers at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University evaluated the results and concluded that Shape Up Kids motivated healthier fitness and eating habits for participants and their families. A total of 81 percent of participants indicated that the competition encouraged them to walk more and 73 percent reported they now enjoy exercising more. Parents and family members also reported walking more as a result of the program.

A total of 550 children will participate in the Shape Up Kids competition from Sept. 28 through Nov. 9.

“One of the primary objectives of the Rhode Island Children’s Wellness Summit,” said Dr. Kumar, “is to explore statewide implementation of the Shape Up Kids program.”


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