Dr. Mehmet Oz, the two-time Daytime Emmy Award-winning host of “The Dr. Oz Show” will visit ASTEC Charter High School in Oklahoma City Monday.
The school is the first in Oklahoma and the region to be selected to participate in the program geared toward increasing the health and fitness levels of high school students, to fight the rising rates of childhood and adult obesity in the United States.
The program is a function of HealthCorps, a nonprofit organization founded in 2003 by Oz and his wife Lisa Oz.
The program uses peer mentoring along with highly-trained HealthCorps coordinators who help teens develop their knowledge and interest in health topics including fitness and nutrition.
“When the right messenger explains to a teenager why an apple is better fuel for their body than a candy bar — they get it,” Oz said in an email interview. “When the right messenger demonstrates to a teenager that both their bodies and their minds function better with exercise — they get it.”
Along with Oz on the school visit will be Harold Hamm, CEO of Continental Resources Inc., which sponsors the Oklahoma City arm of the HealthCorps program at a cost of about $75,000 per year. During the visit Oz and Hamm plan to meet with students and ASTEC faculty to hear firsthand how the program is affecting their lives.
Oz and Hamm, who is founder of the Harold Hamm Diabetes Center at the University of Oklahoma, will address a rally of more than 700 ASTEC students, faculty, parents and supporters.
Later, Oz will be keynote speaker at an event for the diabetes center. None of the appearances is open to the public.
About 33 percent of U.S. adults are obese, according to Journal of the American Medical Association.
In 2000, no state had obesity prevalence at 30 percent or higher, but today, 12 states do.
Additionally, 17 percent of children and adolescents ages 2 to 19 years are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Kids are overweight for many reasons, Oz said.
“A sedentary lifestyle, a growing reliance on convenient, highly processed foods, too much sugar, lack of physical education and activity during school, and really a lack of knowledge,” he said.
Childhood obesity can harm a child's body in many ways including causing high blood pressure and high cholesterol which can cause cardiovascular disease. Obesity can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, breathing problems such as sleep apnea, joint problems, liver disease, gallstones. It can heighten risk for social and psychological disorders such as depression and poor self-esteem.
Oz said that after a meeting last fall with Hamm, the two decided it was time to bring HealthCorps to Oklahoma City.
“Dr. Oz and I agree that teaching children to live a healthy lifestyle will equip them to achieve great things,” Hamm said via email.
Before HealthCorps goes into a city or state, Oz said the nonprofit team gets recommendations from people on the ground.
“Where is the need, where would our program fit, where are the opportunities for growth?” Oz said. “A school that kept coming up was ASTEC Charter High School. Our team was told what a remarkable school it is, with a dedicated faculty, staff and parents.”
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