Obesity rates in the U.S. have increased dramatically over the last 30 years, and it is now at epidemic levels in the United States. In Florida, only an estimated 35% of adults are at a healthy weight and more than half of children born today will be obese by the time they graduate from high school. For this reason, Florida’s State Surgeon General, John Armstrong, MD, FACS, has declared healthy weight as a top priority.
Florida’s county and municipal governments play an important role in promoting health and in decreasing the prevalence of unhealthy weight. Key to a community’s success is the implementation of broad-based policies and programs that serve to increase physical exercise, improve nutrition and promote activity rich environments where the “healthy choice” is the “easier choice”.
Recognizing these efforts, Dr. Armstrong established the Healthy Weight Community Champion Recognition Program to highlight Florida’s leaders in community health and educate others on best practices.
One of those leaders is the City of Orlando, through its Families, Parks and Recreation Department. FPR offers a multi-dimensional approach to promoting healthy lifestyles and combat childhood obesity in Orlando through an initiative it calls Healthy Kids Orlando (HkO). Through HkO, FPR offers year-round comprehensive sports programs to thousands of youth; daily access to healthy meals for thousands of children after school and throughout the summer; the full spectrum of parks and recreational facilities for youth including playgrounds, basketball courts, sports fields and more; specialized wilderness education programs and park experiences for youth; and youth-operated community gardens at multiple recreation centers and parks across the City.