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By Marconi Calindas

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, Oct. 25) - Forty-nine percent of the student population of Tanapag Elementary School is either underweight or overweight, according to a recent report from the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Public School System.

[PIR editor’s note: Named for Tanapag Village, which is located on the northwest coast of the island of Saipan in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Tanapag Elementary School was started in 1962.]

Tanapag Elementary School principal Frances Ulloa said a recent Public School System project measured the students' Body Mass Index where it was found that only 51 percent of the students fell within the healthy category. The rest were either in the underweight or overweight categories.

[PIR editor’s note: According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, Body Mass Index (BMI) is a number calculated from a person’s weight and height. BMI provides a reliable indicator of body fatness for most people and is used to screen for weight categories that may lead to health problems.]

Ulloa said that, of the 236 Tanapag Elementary School students, 229 were measured to get their respective Body-Mass Index. Public School System conducted the survey in August this year, with a follow-up in September. There's not much difference between the two figures. And that concerns us," Ulloa added.

The Commonwealth Diabetes Coalition, in collaboration with Diabetes Prevention and Control, launched its pilot project called "Diabetes and You" Program yesterday. Speaker Irene and Carl Takeshita, together with the Northern Marianas College program officers, visited schools.

The team held a one-hour presentation and training for some 26 Tanapag Elementary School students and faculty members.

Ulloa said she was glad to have the training and have the facilitators transfer knowledge and techniques to her faculty on how to effectively transmit information about diabetes to schoolchildren.

"Diabetes and You" is a curriculum that is now being taught to 4th and 5th grade students in Hawaii to help address the prevention and control of Type 2 diabetes through nutrition and physical activity.

[PIR editor’s note: According to a Star Bulletin report, the Diabetes and You program was developed by retired Hawaii educators Irene Takeshita (retired in 1995 from Waimalu Elementary School after 28 years of teaching sixth grade) and her husband who retired as the Department of Education's specialist for the at-risk program. Irene began the diabetes program in 1999 for the Department of Education, State Department of Health and ADA in Hawaii.]

The curriculum aims to:

The team will be visiting Mt. Carmel School and Saipan International School today.

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