Louisiana faces alarming health statistics among its youngest residents. According to 2009-10 Picard Center data, more than half of Louisiana students have an unhealthy Body Mass Index (BMI), with 50% of students classified as overweight or obese. Not only is this above the national average, but these statistics put a large amount of children in Louisiana at risk for developing health-related issues, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
With this in mind, the Picard Center is collaborating with numerous Louisiana school districts to implement the Coordinated School Health initiative. Quite simply, this initiative brings together schools, public health agencies, families and community leaders and integrates health strategies where kids spend most of their time – in school.
Through the passage of Act 256 during the 2009 La. Legislative Session, the Picard Center became designated as the collection and data analysis center for health-related physical fitness assessments of Louisiana’s children. The test provides objective, easy-to-understand results that track physical fitness over time, and the assessment provides families with information on their children’s levels of physical fitness.
The Picard Center is also collaborating with local universities and state agencies to address childhood obesity through this act and other initiatives.