CREATED Sep. 22, 2012
FORT MYERS, Fla. - For 13-year-old Le'Andria Taylor, "I could eat healthier, i could go to bed at a great time," she said, Lee County's Annual Health Forum at Dunbar High is teaching her the pitfalls of an unhealthy lifestyle.
"Like have rotten teeth or bad gums just from smoking or getting obese," said Le'Andria, who attends Fort Myers Middle Academy.
And that's what organizers are battling. An obesity epidemic among children in southwest Florida.
"If they don't change the way they behave, the way they eat or the way they are physically active, their life is going to be shorter than their mom and dad's," said Diane Holm, a public information officer, with the Florida Department of Health.
According to the Lee County Health Department, up to 32 percent, or one in three kids, is overweight or obese. It's the reason organizers say they offered health screenings for kids for the very first time.
"We want children to understand that there options, alternatives to obesity," said Cecil Carter, the chairman of the event.
Like the 5-2-1-0 campaign. The program suggests five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, no more than two hours of watching TV and playing video games, one hour of exercise and zero sugary drinks like soda and sports beverages.
"They need to stop that and go back to water, and milk and 100 percent juice," added Holm.
Organizers say about 350 men, women and children turned out for free services like prostate screenings and diabetes prevention.
"We recognized that there is a need in the community for all members of the family," explained Carter.
So, teens like Le'Andria grow up with one less concern.
"Kids should be able to live life without worrying about someone picking on them," she said.