Giving Thanks: November 20 Honors Public Health Heroes

November 20, 2006

November 20 marks the nationâ??s second annual Public Health Thank You Day. As Thanksgiving approaches, UNT Health Science Center, Research!America and leading U.S. public health organizations ask Americans to give special thanks to their state and local â??public health heroesâ? who protect the nationâ??s health throughout the year. Who are these heroes? They are your neighbors and friends.

For example, a research team led by Ximena Urrutia-Rojas, DrPH, RN, associate professor at the Health Science Centerâ??s School of Public Health, and Richard Young, MD, of JPS Health Network, have teamed with United Way of Tarrant County to combat childhood obesity.

The UNT Health Science Center-JPS-United Way program, called FitFuture, will focus not just on the personal habits of third graders at Fort Worth ISDâ??s Mitchell Boulevard Elementary and their families to battle the factors that could lead to obesity, but the program will also involve schools, churches, business and the YMCA in a community effort to battle obesity in children.

â??The idea is to change the philosophy of the community,â? said Dr. Rojas. The FitFuture joint approach with community members can help change the way grocery stores and restaurants serve the community, she said, by making them more aware of how their products affect the health of kids.

The project launched early last week with initial measurements from about 40 children. The FitFuture program will ultimately involve about 80 Tarrant County families.

Join UNT Health Science Center by saying thank you to the individuals who work tirelessly everyday assuring your water is safe to drink, your day care centers are clean, and your children receive the immunizations and nutrition they need.

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Contact: Lauren LaFleur at 817-735-5152 or via e-mail at llafleur@hsc.unt.edu.

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