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August 18, 2006

Gov. Blagojevich convenes council and makes health and physical fitness priorities for the state
Former Chicago Bear Otis Wilson named Chairman of Governor Blagojevich’s Council on Health and Physical Fitness

SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich is convening Governor Blagojevich’s Council on Health and Physical Fitness as part of his continuing effort to encourage Illinois citizens to adopt healthier lifestyles. Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Director Eric E. Whitaker, M.D., M.P.H. and Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) Secretary Carol L Adams, Ph.D., made the announcement at the Fit 4 Life Hula Hoop Challenge during Youth Day at the Illinois State Fair, where hundreds of participants competed to be the state’s top hula hoopers. They were joined by members of the Council, including Otis Wilson, former Chicago Bear and Super Bowl Champion, who will serve as the Chairman of the Council.

"Regular exercise can reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer and high blood pressure while reducing stress and increasing energy. But the unfortunate truth is that a majority of adults in America, and almost a third of our children, are not getting enough exercise. The consequences are widespread – as obesity becomes more common, so do serious health problems. That puts a strain on our health care system and impacts health care costs for all of us," said Gov. Blagojevich. "The good news is that we can do something about this growing problem. Each and every one of us, by committing to eating healthier and getting more exercise, can help reverse the trend. I’m convening the Council on Health and Physical Fitness and naming Otis Wilson, one of Illinois’ favorite legendary athletes, to lead the effort to encourage Illinoisans to make health and fitness personal priorities."

Governor Blagojevich’s Council on Health and Physical Fitness will be made up of Illinois’ leading health and fitness advocates who will serve to promote exercise and good nutrition across the state. Council members will work to encourage residents to adopt new exercise and eating habits as well as address the epidemics attributed to obesity and chronic disease.

"My goal is to help families understand the importance of building the foundation of living healthy and active lifestyles at an early age. I'm committed to working with families across the state to help motivate and encourage them to participate in the activities and services that will be offered through the Council and the Fit 4 Life program," said Wilson.

Others appointed to be on the Governor’s Council on Health and Physical Fitness include:

Jerry Azumah – Former Chicago Bear

Jackie Joyner-Kersee – Olympic Champion

Robert Kersee – Olympic Coach

Dennis McKinnon – Former Chicago Bear

Otis Wilson – Former Chicago Bear

Lt. Governor Pat Quinn

Senator Mattie Hunter

Senator Dave Syverson

Michael Barnett – Special Olympics

John Miller – Boys & Girls Club of America

Deborah Staley – Senior Olympics

Barbara Campbell – Institute of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

Aida Giachello Ph.D.– Midwest Latino Health Research, Training and Policy Center UIC

Jasmine Singh M.D. - Rosenbloom Medical Center

Scott Wikgren – Human Kinetics Publishing

Patricia Garza – Kraft Foods, Inc.

Heather Gavras – American Heart Association

Mary Hardy-Hall – YWCA Springfield

Nancy Holt - Southern Seven Health Department

Lori Sanders – Jewel-Osco

"Many of the invited Council members are sports celebrities and great role-models for living a healthy lifestyle," said Dr. Whitaker. "Here in Illinois our most recent data from a self-reporting questionnaire reveals that more than a third, 37 percent, of Illinois adults are overweight while 22 percent are obese. And approximately 25 percent of adults in Illinois state they do not receive any exercise. By encouraging people to be active and follow good nutrition practices, this Council can help reduce the number of people who put their health at risk by being overweight and leading sedentary lives."

"By having nationally recognized sports celebrities as well as organizations and businesses committed to promoting good health serve on the Council, we believe we can attract the attention of Illinois citizens and get the message across that living a longer, healthier life starts with good nutrition and exercise," said Sec. Adams.

Fit 4 Life is a fitness initiative launched by Gov. Blagojevich to encourage healthy eating and physical fitness among Illinoisans.

This is the second year for the Fit 4 Life Hula Hoop Challenge. Hundreds of fairgoers are expected to compete in the Hula Hoop event which includes seven different challenges for people of all ages.

During today’s announcement, Dr. Whitaker and Sec. Adams also recognized the Fit 4 Life Walking Challenge participants. State employees participated in a 12- week State Agency Walking Challenge and recorded steps or minutes of physical activity with the goal of 70,000 steps or 210 minutes of physical activity per week. The Challenge is designed to encourage state employees to adopt healthy lifestyle behaviors such as incorporating physical activity into their daily lives.

Gov. Blagojevich has worked to improve the health of Illinois citizens, by increasing access to healthcare for working families and encouraging Illinois citizens to lead healthier lives.

In November 2005, Gov. Blagojevich signed the All Kids program into law, making affordable, comprehensive health insurance available to all uninsured children in Illinois. Since taking office in January 2003, Gov. Blagojevich has expanded health care coverage to over 400,000 Illinoisans through programs like FamilyCare and All Kids. The Kaiser Family Foundation has ranked Illinois first in the nation for ensuring parents have access to health care and second best state in the nation for providing health care to children who need it.

In March 2006, the Illinois State Board of Education adopted the Governor’s proposal to ban junk food and soda in Illinois elementary and middle schools. Research shows that healthier students have higher attendance rates, better behavior, and superior test scores.

In 2004, Gov. Blagojevich signed legislation calling for the development of a comprehensive statewide plan that recommends strategies to improve the public health system and the health status of Illinois residents. The State Health Improvement Plan (SHIP) was created and circulated earlier this month at hearings in southern, central and northern Illinois. In line with the Governor’s commitment to encourage Illinoisan to lead healthier lifestyles, Illinois’ first SHIP focuses on: obesity; physical activity; alcohol, tobacco, drug abuse; and violence as keys to improving the health of state residents. The plan will be sent to the Governor this fall and then forwarded on to the General Assembly in January.

IDPH has worked, through their Heart Smart for Women and Heart Smart for Teens programs, to educate women and girls about the risk factors of cardiovascular diseases, promote the importance of a healthy diet and physical activity and assist in developing a healthier lifestyle.

Gov. Blagojevich has also supported a Coordinated Approach to Child Health (CATCH), a curriculum and physical education program. A follow-up evaluation completed at the end of the 2005 school year shows that moderate to vigorous physical activity in CATCH classes increased by 15 percent and the time students were active during class more than doubled. Approximately 6,000 elementary students are participating in the statewide program.


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