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Department of Pediatrics helps fight obesity with dance

Employees from The University of Toledo Department of Pediatrics are teaming up with the Buckeye Community Health Plan and the YMCA to stem the growing epidemic of childhood and adult obesity.

Together, the three groups will offer Hustle for Health exercise and educational clinics the last Wednesday of each month during the summer to help youth along with adults burn some calories through dancing as well as learn how to live healthier.

Upcoming Hustle for Health events will take place from 5 to 6 p.m. June 30, July 28 and Aug. 25 in the Morse Center on the third floor of Dowling Hall on UT’s Health Science Campus.

According to Jodi Hojnacki, manager of utilization management at Buckeye, dance was chosen as a form of exercise because it is “adaptable to any age group and promotes a fun atmosphere that is upbeat — not the typical exercise that people tend to frown upon.”

The educational content will be distinct for the two different age groups, giving the clinics a comprehensive family focus. University officials will provide education about how to balance a nutritious diet with exercise. They are Dr. Joan Griffith, associate professor and interim chair of the Department of Pediatrics; Dr. Eliza McCartney, assistant professor of nursing and pediatric nurse practitioner; and Cheryl Weeks, pediatric clinic nurse manager.

“Partnering with Buckeye to advance their Hustle for Health initiative represents a ‘win-win’ for the community,” Griffith said. “Reducing the costs of obesity will require a joint, community-wide approach. What better team to do this than health-care providers, a nutritionist, a physical activity specialist and a community health plan leader?”

The Hustle for Health initiative is an extension of another program that focuses on fighting childhood obesity called the Lifestyle, Eating, Activities and Attitudes Program, or LEAP.

LEAP, a partnership between the UT Pediatrics Department and the YMCA, provides clinics designed for adolescents 21 and younger in need of behavioral change to achieve a healthy lifestyle. Participants receive physical screenings, nutrition counseling, individualized exercise routines and psychological evaluations to identify emotional influences eating habits.

The Hustle for Health events are scheduled the fourth Wednesday of each month in place of a weekly LEAP clinic. Once the summer ends, the children permanently can enroll in LEAP clinics.

To register for the LEAP clinics, children must either be enrolled in the UT Pediatric Practice or referred by their primary care providers. For more information, call 419.383.3771.