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LSU's Pennington Biomedical Research Center launches child-focused obesity reduction initiative

Michelle Southern reporting.
LSU's Pennington Biomedical Research Center launches an initiative providing doctors in Louisiana with proven strategies to reduce and treat obesity in children. The project is lead by Dr. Amanda Staiano who says the Child Obesity Treatment Toolkit helps primary care physicians determine who's at risk for obesity.

"It teaches doctors ways to assess obesity and ways to treat childhood obesity in clinic settings," said Staiano.

Staiano says childhood obesity is a very serious issue in Louisiana with half of our kids being overweight or obese. She says they have great recommendations on how to treat obesity and screen for it, but many physicians aren't using them.

"This toolkit is trying to get into the hands of doctors, nurses & dietitians, so they can better understand what children are most at risk for obesity," said Staiano. "And then give that advice to parents and families."

Staiano says they have over 2,000 hard copies of the toolkit they plan to distribute throughout the state or doctors can download it online at www.pbrc.edu/obesitytoolkit. 

She says Louisiana ranks near the top of obesity prevalence even in preschoolers.

"It's really important to intervene early in a child's life," said Staiano. "Make sure that child is set up with good eating habits, good physical activity and also good self-esteem."
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BESE President urges parents to have their children take the Common Core test

Amid reports that some families are opting out from having their child take standardized tests that are part of Common Core, the chairman of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, Chas Roemer, is encouraging parents to have their child take the test in March.
"It's important to not only our accountability system, but it's more important to better understand their own child, and what areas their student may have strengths and what areas they may have weaknesses," Roemer said.
Based on news reports, only a handful of families have decided that their children will not take the Common Core-aligned tests, because they believe its harmful to their children. Roemer says the new standardized tests are more rigorous than previous ones and an important component to determine student achievement.
"We're going to spend time between now and testing to make sure every parent is fully informed of what's happening and try to reinsure them that this is the best interest of their student," Roemer said. 
Governor Bobby Jindal has issued an executive order that calls on BESE to have an alternate test for those students who opt-out of the Common Core exam. But Roemer says Jindal doesn't have the constitutional authority to do that and he accuses the governor of creating chaos. 
"it's what he does best and he's doing that because it's in his political interest, this par for the course," Roemer said. 
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LHSAA votes against split playoffs in other sports, football stays the same for 2015

High school principals vote to keep the current split between public and private schools that exists with the football playoffs and allow the new executive director of the LHSAA, Eddie Bonine, develop solutions that could possibly bring the classes back together. Bonine says his first step will be to organize a committee to examine the issues that caused the split.

"Find out what the problem was that led up to it and address those particular issues, so we can eventually, if that's what everybody wants to do, have one weekend of state championships like we've had many, many years." 
This past season, the state football championships were split over two weekends. Four state titles for private schools one weekend, and five state titles for public schools the next weekend. 
Many principal Norman Booker authored proposals to divide the postseason between public and private schools in other sports, but it was voted down. Booker says private schools have advantages in the student enrollment process over public schools and he'll seek try to help come up with a solution as well. 
"Trying to get things right and whatever that maybe, we'll come back in a years time, and if it's worked out, then it works itself out, if not, then we'll go back to the drawing board," Booker said.
Bonine says he wants to take a hard look at the issues that caused the split, and see if he can solve those, before he proposes a playoff format that high school principals can vote on next January. 
"If I'm able to identify where some concerns are, I'll go to where the concerns are and have those conversations and address them."  

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