Governor Deal Launches Georgia SHAPE
Horizons in Hemophilia, June 2012
By Jeff Cornett, RN MSN, Director of Training, Research, and Advocacy
This spring Georgia began a new initiative to increase the physical fitness of our state’s children. The new program, called Georgia SHAPE, hopes to combat the obesity epidemic among Georgia’s children, who are more likely to be obese than children in any other state except Mississippi.
Parents have already seen one part of the SHAPE program, the FITNESSGRAM. Required by Georgia law, all students in Georgia undergo a measurement of their physical fitness. The assessment includes aerobic capacity, muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility and body composition. A confidential report for each child is sent to parents. A guide to understanding the FITNESSGRAM results is available online at http://www.georgiashape.org/index.php/fitnessgram.
Parents of children with hemophilia should pay special attention to the FITNESSGRAM, especially the BMI (Body Mass Index). This number indicates if a child is at a healthy weight based on his or her height. Being overweight puts more stress on the joints, especially the knees and ankles, which have to support the extra pounds. This stress makes the joints more likely to bleed. Being overweight also means that a child must take more factor, since the dosage is based on weight. To reach a factor level of 40%, a child with hemophilia A must use nine units of factor VIII for every pound he weighs. A child with hemophilia B must use 18 units of factor IX for every pound. If a child is overweight, this can easily equal hundreds of extra dollars in medication costs with each injection of factor. In addition, being overweight puts all children at an increased risk for developing such diseases as diabetes, high blood pressure, and asthma.
If your child is overweight, there are several resources available to you. The Georgia SHAPE website has healthy recipes and a tool called Fitness at Your Fingertips to help you locate local health and fitness activities throughout Georgia. Your Hemophilia of Georgia Outreach Nurse can also help you find resources to get your child active and on the road to weight loss. Finally, take a copy of your child’s FITNESSGRAM to your next HTC visit to discuss your child’s weight with his or her hematologist. The HTC can help you identify enjoyable and safe physical activities for your child.