To curb the state’s sky-high obesity rates that have marked it a heavyweight haven, Governor Nathan Deal launched on Wednesday a new public health initiative designed to shrink Peach State waistlines.

The Georgia Student Health and Physical Education (SHAPE) Act passed in 2009 began requiring schools this year to conduct annual fitness assessments for all students attending public schools, the results of which parents would receive in a “fitnessgram.”

Hailed as a “landmark initiative to improve child fitness,” the program was expanded this week to promote generic healthy living::

The launch of Georgia SHAPE included the unveiling of a digital portal, one of many strategies aimed at addressing childhood obesity. One of the most exciting aspects of is the fitness directory, where visitors can enter their zip code and the number of miles they are willing to travel. Based on the information provided, a list of area fitness programs will populate, along with details about each. Additional strategies to combat childhood obesity are planned and include promoting breastfeeding, increasing physical activity and providing better nutritional options for students.  

Figures released by Deal’s staff said the state has the second-highest obesity rate in the nation for those children between the ages of 10 and 17. Almost 40% of all Georgia youth are definitionally overweight or obese.

– James Richardson