KIDS MARATHON Bolsters Nationwide Efforts to Fight Childhood Obesity

Feb 23, 2010

10-Week Event Starts First Day of Spring  

Kids Marathon Starting LineWeb

PHOTO CAPTION: Children take off for the final, 1.2-mile leg of last year's Princeton HealthCare KIDS MARATHON on the Princeton University campus. Photo Credit: Leigha Emma Cohen

PRINCETON, NJ (Feb. 23, 2010)
- Childhood obesity has reached near epidemic proportions and threatens the healthy future of millions of American children.

With spring approaching, the Auxiliary of University Medical Center at Princeton is urging families to help their kids make a fresh start for improved health by signing them up for the Princeton HeathCare KIDS MARATHON, a 26.2-mile run that kids can gradually complete over time.

The KIDS MARATHON encourages children to tackle 2.5 miles per week for 10 weeks, starting March 20 - the first day of spring. The marathon concludes with a final 1.2 mile "Fun Run" that takes place June 6 on the Princeton University campus.

"The Kids Marathon is designed to promote good health and help children incorporate fitness into their daily routines," said event co-chair Amy Rabner. "We all know that obesity is a growing problem among school-aged children with serious and life-long consequences. The time to start building healthy habits is now."

The percentage of young people who are overweight has more than tripled since 1980, according to data from the National Center for Health Statistics, with nearly one in three children in America now considered overweight or obese - a statistic with enormous implications for future health.

"The health consequences of childhood obesity are enormous, both in the short term and in the long term," said Bert Mandelbaum, MD, chairman of pediatrics for Princeton HealthCare System. "Obese children are at risk for diseases like asthma and obstructive sleep apnea. Many of them will also go on to suffer more silent, long term diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes and high blood pressure."

The problem of childhood obesity is prompting a variety of responses to combat it, from grassroots efforts like the KIDS MARATHON to new national efforts to help children get healthy.

First Lady Michelle Obama recently announced "Let's Move," a nationwide campaign to tackle the challenge of childhood obesity through diet, exercise and education.

Rabner said the KIDS MARATHON complements the First Lady's efforts, giving families a fun, goal-oriented program that can put children on the path to better health.

Participants in the KIDS MARATHON are offered a variety of options to go the distance - jogging, playing youth sports like baseball and soccer, walking to school, and more. Small prizes are provided to children every two weeks to mark each five miles conquered and encourage them toward their goal.

The marathon combines its pro-fitness message with a message of environmental good health and community-spirited generosity. The event encourages children to give back to their community by raising funds for the Pediatric Clinic at University Medical Center at Princeton. Each child is asked to find 10 sponsors to contribute $1 per-mile (a $26 pledge). Children are also encouraged to complete a series of "Green Deeds" to help the environment.

The KIDS MARATHON is open to kindergarteners to eighth graders. A $25 registration fee includes a t-shirt, a commemorative medal, prizes for every five miles logged, as well as goodie bags, snacks and Mylar blankets - the shiny, metallic wrapping typically given to marathon runners after a race. 

To register, and for more information, visit the event's web site by clicking here or call the Auxiliary at (609) 497-4069