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CDC recognizes UTHealth’s CATCH program with Pioneering Innovation Award

HOUSTON – (May 10, 2012) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recognized the Coordinated Approach To Child Health (CATCH) program, which was developed in part by researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth). The program was honored at the CDC’s Weight of the Nation Conference in Washington, D.C on May 8.

CATCH is a physical activity and nutrition program targeted toward schools, families and children. The program was created as a research project more than 20 years ago by researchers seeking to develop an elementary school-based program to reduce the risk factors related to cardiovascular disease.

Six organizations and one person were awarded the Pioneering Innovation Award. Recipients were recognized in the categories of systems change, community mobilization, game changer, applied obesity research, and applied technology. CATCH was given the award in the systems change category.

“While the national prevalence of obesity may be stabilizing, the total number of obese individuals is increasing and that national number is projected to increase by 30 percent by 2030,” said Steven Kelder, Ph.D., M.P.H co-director of the Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living at UTHealth. “We need innovation and creative individuals and programs to work across social classes and systems in education, business, medicine, recreation and agriculture.”

Kelder has been an investigator with CATCH for over 20 years and accepted the award on behalf of the program.

The Center for Healthy Living continues to support and evaluate CATCH implementation in different demographics. Research by Deanna Hoelscher, Ph.D., director of the Center for Healthy Living found CATCH reversed obesity in children in El Paso and Austin schools.

“CATCH has made an incredible difference in the lives of the children and families touched by the program,” said Roberta B. Ness, M.D., M.P.H., dean of The University of Texas School of Public Health. “The effects of the evidence-based nutrition and physical activity programs from the Center for Healthy Living cannot be underestimated.” The Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living is located at the UT School of Public Health Austin Regional Campus, a part of UTHealth.

The CATCH program has now been adopted by 57 percent of elementary schools and 46 percent of middle schools in Texas, reaching over a million Texas students. Throughout the United States, 8,500 schools in 39 states have adopted CATCH.

“We are excited about the impressive group of award recipients and the commitment each has made to programs and policies that achieve measurable impact in preventing obesity,” said William H. Dietz, M.D., Ph.D., director of CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity. “In today’s world there is much focus on what individuals can do to improve their health, and while that is important, we must remember our nation’s health is also strongly affected by environmental changes that result from the collective efforts of all sectors of society.”

An awards advisory panel, composed of representatives from numerous public health organizations, reviewed more than 90 applications and chose the winners based on merit.

About CATCH: UTHealth’s CATCH (Coordinated Approach To Child Health) is a Texas Education Agency-approved Coordinated School Health Program designed to promote physical activity and healthy food choices and prevent tobacco use in elementary school students. By teaching children that eating healthy and being physically active every day can be fun, the goal of the CATCH Program is to establish healthy habits in childhood that can promote behavior changes that carry into adulthood. For information, visit CATCH.

The Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living was founded in 2006 with a $2 million grant from the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation in an effort to serve as the state, national and international leader in the promotion of healthy living for children and their families. It is a center of The University of Texas School of Public Health includes a main campus in Houston and five regional campuses in Austin, El Paso, Dallas, Brownsville and San Antonio. The UT School of Public Health is part of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.

Jade Waddy
Media Contact: 713-500-3030