Michael Windham, 9, caught some hangtime on a trampoline set up by the Hawaii Academy of Trampoline and Tumbling at the HMSA Go Festival yesterday. About 3,000 people attended the event at Les Murakami Stadium that launched HMSA's statewide campaign to fight obesity.

Active Interests

A statewide campaign urges everyone
to get going and fight obesity

Climbing a 30-foot "rock" wall was a breeze for 12-year-old Mehana Horner, who paddles canoes and is starting track at St. Patrick's School.

A weighty health concern

» More than half of American adults are overweight or obese, according to the American Public Health Association.
» The youth obesity rate in Hawaii is 22 percent -- twice the national average.
» About 80 percent of obese adolescents remain obese as adults.
» About 23 percent of adults report getting no physical activity.
» Obesity is a major contributor to preventable causes of death.
» Treatment of obesity-related medical conditions costs the health care system an estimated $290 million per year.
» Obese or overweight people increase their risk for heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, arthritis-related disabilities, breast, colon and prostate cancers.

Source: Hawaii Medical Service Association

She was the first girl to make it to the top of the inflatable wall at an outdoor festival sponsored by the Hawaii Medical Service Association yesterday at the University of Hawaii's Les Murakami Stadium.

More than 3,000 adults and children sampled a wide variety of physical activities intended to encourage them to think about a more active lifestyle -- obviously not a problem for Mehana.

Nonprofit organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters of Honolulu and Boys & Girls Club of Hawaii and HMSA employees and children were invited to the event to launch a statewide campaign to fight obesity. It is expected to run through at least 2006.

Robert P. Hiam, HMSA president and chief executive officer, and Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann kicked off the "Get Up, Get Out, Get Active" campaign.

Hiam said inactive people are almost twice as likely to develop heart disease than more active people, and "the combination of poor diet and physical activity is rapidly approaching tobacco as the leading cause of preventable death."

Hannemann, who played football and basketball in school, commended HMSA for the campaign. "When it comes to your health, I can't think of anything more important," he said.

Hannemann said people don't have to go to a gym or YMCA to get healthy exercise.

"Go" campaign messages will encourage residents to incorporate activity into their daily lives such as gardening, washing a car, hiking, shooting hoops with kids or walking instead of taking an elevator.

Adults and kids eagerly lined up under a blazing sun yesterday to participate in such activities as a trampoline, batting cages, Frisbee and soccer clinics, lion dancing, belly dancing, karate, Capoeira (a Brazilian form of martial arts to live music), baseball, golf putting, different martial arts and many others.

UH football, basketball and women's volleyball athletes worked with kids at various field stations.

Assisting at an electric basketball toss, Matt Gibson, sophomore on the basketball team, said, "The one thing you really control is how healthy you get and stay. Most kids want to be athletes and stay healthy. It's good to get an early start."

The Fun 5 program, created by HMSA with UH and the Department of Education as a physical activity and nutrition program, was demonstrated with games such as "Houdini Hoops," "Clean Your Room" and "Grab the Apple." Fun 5 is being carried out at 72 after-school A-plus programs and elementary schools.

Nainoa Banks, 5, shot some hoops with UH basketball player Matt Gibson at the HMSA Go Festival yesterday at Les Murakami Stadium. The HMSA campaign is encouraging kids to "Get Up, Get Out, Get Active."

Malee Masuda, 9, who goes to Ala Wai School, tackled an "Ironman obstacle course" with different challenges. "It was pretty easy," she said, heading off to watch jujitsu with her mother, Vicky Jasparro.

Malee said she bicycles and swims with her mother, and once went on a 4-mile run. She likes to jump rope and play basketball, she said. "Boys won't let me play, though."

Kristal Harrison, 14, was waiting for a second try at a dance revolution game after getting some perfect scores the first time. She is on Kaiser High School's swim team, ranked fourth in the state in freestyle.

Her mother, Jeanne Russell, an HMSA project manager, said she has lost 50 pounds since last year working out in the association's gym.

Kelly Baniaga, another HMSA employee, said she's been going to the gym for almost a month. "I need to work on everything."

Eligible HMSA members have a chance to attend Weight Watchers in a three-month pilot program being subsidized by HMSA as part of its "Go" campaign.

Members must complete an assessment at an HMSA HealthPass office to determine their eligibility for the program. If they qualify, they may attend traditional Weight Watchers meetings or sign up for the Weight Watchers Online program.

Members of HMSA Care Connection disease management programs also can call the Care Connection Program and ask to be referred to Weight Watchers.

More than 20 clubs, associations, athletic teams and organizations participated in games and sports clinics or performed on stage at the festival, and many companies and organizations provided support.

TV personality Kutmaster Spaz emceed the program, saying he is 110 pounds lighter than last year because of increased physical activity.

HMSA topped off the active afternoon with a free meal of healthy foods for all present.

Similar "Go" campaign kickoffs were held on Maui and the Big Island, and Kauai's will be May 7.

HMSA Go Program

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