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RWJ Hamilton to Expand SHAPEDOWN
Aetna Foundation Grant Helps to Battle Childhood Obesity
Date: 12/7/2011

Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton will expand its nationally acclaimed pediatric weight management program SHAPEDOWN, thanks to a $23,000 grant from the Aetna Foundation. 


SHAPEDOWN, a free, 10-week program offered four times a year for young people between the ages of 8-18, targets childhood obesity, an epidemic in the United States affecting one in three youngsters. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, New Jersey has the second-highest rate of obesity in the nation among low-income preschoolers.


The SHAPEDOWN program, directed by licensed professionals including a registered nurse, registered dietician and an exercise specialist, builds on the strength of the family and teaches healthy eating, active lifestyles, parental limit-setting and nurturing skills to curb a child’s emotional overeating, said Barbara Weber Berry, SHAPEDOWN coordinator.


The Aetna Foundation grant will allow RWJ Hamilton to fund “The Initiatives to Maintain Healthy Lifestyles and Prevent Childhood Obesity” project, which expands the existing SHAPEDOWN program to help graduates of the 10-week course maintain healthy living habits.  In addition, this grant will provide educational strategies to prevent obesity in the preschool and school-age populations through exposure to healthy eating and exercise practices.

Graduates will be able to participate in support groups, take cooking classes to reinforce healthy cooking and eating habits, and join fitness classes at the RWJ Hamilton Center for Health & Wellness. The initiative also will make mentorships available to local school districts interested in launching their own SHAPEDOWN programs.


In addition, RWJ Hamilton will implement three primary intervention projects that feature targeting pre- and school-age populations with dietician-directed cooking classes to instill healthy eating habits; offering dietician and fitness trainer-facilitated FIT TRIP education programs at the RWJ Hamilton Center for Health & Wellness to schools and community groups; and providing nutrition educators to schools and community groups for on-site education.


The Aetna Foundation, based in Hartford, Conn., is the charitable giving arm of Aetna Inc. and supports projects to promote wellness, health and access to high-quality health care for everyone.


“RWJ Hamilton is excited to expand upon the success of the hospital’s SHAPEDOWN program, which has served over 1,000 families in Mercer County since 2000,” said Berry. 

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