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Georgia health group battles child obesity

ATLANTA, Feb. 19 (UPI) -- Children's Healthcare of Atlanta wants to move Georgia out of the top 10 list for childhood obesity by 2016, officials said.

Doctors at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, the largest pediatric healthcare organization in the United States, said they treat patients in their Health4Life Clinic as young as age 3 for complications related to obesity.

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The healthcare system's officials said it began its Strong4Life in early 2011, a large-scale public awareness campaign, along with programs and partnerships to reach kids and their parents. The first phase of the campaign, the "warning" ads, was designed to raise awareness and spark conversation about childhood obesity.

"A noteworthy finding in the research is that while 96 percent of respondents viewed childhood obesity as a somewhat or very serious problem, only 28 percent of parents of an obese child considered their child overweight or obese, and only 36 percent were concerned about their child's weight," Dr. Richard Lutz of the University of Florida's Warrington College of Business Administration said in a statement.

"This apparent disconnect, known as the 'perceived personal immunity' effect, has been documented for issues such as susceptibility to contracting lung cancer, skin cancer and AIDS."

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The program also included training more than 1,000 healthcare providers, nurses and dietitians to discuss obesity with their patients; going to more than 100 schools to share with children the importance of healthy eating and physical activity and educating more than 430 daycare center staff to use Strong4Life tool kits to teach healthy habits at an early age.

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