On National America On the Move Day, Community Leaders Announce “Florida on the Move” — A program to help Floridians get fit and lose weight.

Orlando, FL, November 5, 2004 — Central Florida leaders–hoping to rein in on the sharp rise in obesity among residents–today announced Florida’s affiliation with America on the Move (AOM).

Beginning with the introduction of “Florida On the Move” in Central Florida, Florida becomes the 20 th state to affiliate with the AOM national health improvement initiative. AOM, launched in July 2003, encourages Americans to walk an extra 2000 steps a day and eat 100 fewer calories a day. Based on research conducted by Dr. James Hill, AOM founder and director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado, doing so is enough for most Americans to create a balance between energy expenditure and food consumption. AOM Affiliates, like “Florida On the Move,” strive to build health-promoting communities that support and promote individual behavior changes.

Those gathered for today’s announcement included Orange County Chairman Richard Crotty, leaders and representatives of health-conscious organizations from Orange, Seminole, Osceola and Brevard counties, as well as fitness enthusiasts and walkers from the Central Florida YMCA, Orange County Government, LifeSteps senior walking groups, Walt Disney Sports Cast Members and VoluntEARS, and approximately 100 fifth-graders from Brookshire Elementary School in Winter Park. Participants sealed their commitment to get fit and enroll in “Florida On the Move” with a walk around scenic Lake Eola Park in downtown Orlando. The path around the Lake Eola Park is about a mile or 2000 steps, the distance AOM suggests be added to one’s daily routine for improved health.

The affiliation is the result of efforts by a group of Central Florida community leaders who represent a unique collaboration of diverse organizations (see list below). Their plans call for the formal launch of “Florida On the Move” in Central Florida in early 2005, with ongoing efforts throughout the year and expansion throughout the state. The regional organizing group will be called “Central Florida on the Move” and will focus on ways to develop and implement a campaign to raise awareness about the nation’s obesity epidemic and promote ways for Central Florida residents to take action. The Healthy Community Initiative (HCI) will facilitate the planning and work of this one-of-a kind collaborative.

“Florida on the Move is a positive way for our community to “take steps” to be healthier,” said Ray Larsen, HCI executive director. “Florida on the Move encourages and supports individuals to take simple steps that make a big difference like adding 2000 steps and subtracting 100 calories from our daily routines. It also helps us as a community to take bigger steps to promote activities and events offering more choices to participate and be active,” he said.

The move is important for a number of reasons.

Dr. Paul Garrett, one of the members of the local coalition that sought the AOM affiliation and created “Florida on the Move,” expressed concerns for children and adults. “There is a concern that this will be the first generation to have a reduced life expectancy” if nothing is done to deal with childhood obesity and related health problems,” he said.

And the problem is not only one of a reduced life expectancy, but of diminished quality of life. According to Garrett, “Obesity adds 20 years of aging to a body.” That is, an obese 30-year-old functions physically at the level of a 50-year-old. “Diminished quality of life is something we as a society should not allow to happen.”

“We need to change behaviors because genetically we are made to be active, very active–not sedentary,” he said. “Our bodies deteriorate because we are not.”

AOM officials say that more than 120 million Americans are overweight and nearly 59 million are obese. The average American adult gains one to three pounds a year, according to the group.

New data also shows this is a very serious problem for local residents. About 60 percent of the residents In Orange, Seminole, Osceola and Brevard counties are overweight, as compared with 54 percent of all Floridians. (Overweight is defined as having a Body Mass Index of 25 or more.) Of Central Florida’s overweight citizens, 22 percent are considered obese. (Obese is defined as having a BMI of 30 or higher.)

Body Mass Index is an estimate of body fat based on a person’s height and weight. For more BMI information and for tools to make the BMI calculation, go the website for the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute at http://nhlbisupport.com/bmi/bmicalc.htm .

“Florida On the Move” will take advantage of the unique web-based programs and information available through America On the Move. Those interested can register for free online at www.floridaonthemove.org Once enrolled, participants can set individual goals, track their progress, received daily reminders and health tips, and access valuable information on physical activity and healthy eating. Groups can also enroll, including businesses, faith communities, schools, and any organization interested in encouraging healthier lifestyles among its members.

With today’s announcement, Florida joins many other states encouraging residents to move towards a healthier and more active lifestyle. Other America On the Move affiliates include Colorado, District of Columbia, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Santa Barbara, CA, Saratoga Springs, NY, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia. AOM hopes have an affiliate in every state within the next few years. Affiliates carry out the AOM mission in states and cities across America by encouraging people to participate in AOM programs and events. For more information on America on the Move, go to the organization’s website at www.americaonthemove.org

Collaborating Organizations in Central Florida

(as of October 25, 2004)

• Active Living By Design/City of Orlando

• AstraZeneca

• Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida

• Central Florida YMCA

• City of Winter Park

• Community Vision – Osceola

• Darden Restaurants

• Envision Seminole

• Florida Hospital

• Florida Department of Health – Orange County Health Department

• Healthy Community Initiative

• Health Council of East Central Florida

• Heart of Florida United Way

• NBC Universal Orlando

• 9 Family Connection/WFTV

• Orange County Government

• Orange County Public Schools

• Orlando Magic Youth Foundation/RDV Sports

• Orlando Regional Healthcare

• Philanthropy & Non-Profit Leadership Center

• Walt Disney World Company

• Winter Park Health Foundation

If you or your organization are interested in learning more about how to participate in

Florida On the Move , contact the Healthy Community Initiative at 407/649-6891 or email

Ray Larsen at [email protected]