The Howard County Public School System, the county health department and a local nonprofit have received a total of more than $300,000 in grants to fight childhood obesity in the county.
The grants were awarded by the Horizon Foundation, a Columbia-based philanthropy geared toward improving health and wellness in Howard County.
The county school system received $125,000 to fund an Internet-based health and fitness assessment program for students in grades four through nine, the Horizon Foundation said in a news release. The program is designed to allow physical education teachers to measure fitness of students at all 74 county schools.
The county's health department obtained a two-year grant of $86,000 per year to train pediatricians and family physicians in obesity prevention, screening, counseling and treatment. Two hundred providers and 400 families are expected to be reached over two years, according to the Horizon Foundation.
Finally, FIRN, a nonprofit that assists foreign-born county residents, was awarded $90,000 to develop a program to promote healthier living among Latino families. The Community Health Worker program will be designed to help a sector of the population that has a significantly higher incidence of childhood obesity than the general population, according to the Horizon Foundation.
One in four Howard County children is obese or overweight, the foundation said. September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month.