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SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Feb 9) – Over 46 percent of third graders in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands are either overweight or at-risk of growing overweight, according to the Public School System and experts from the U.S.

Jackie Quitugua, the associate education commissioner for curriculum and instruction said the number of school children facing the risk of obesity is still growing.

According to Quitugua, there are obese children who may need medical intervention.

This issue was taken up during the round table discussion of health professionals, legislators and other government officials held at the Hafa Adai Beach Hotel on Tuesday.

"We want the community to know about the best approach in working with parents (to address this issue) because they are the first and most important people in the children’s life," Quitugua said.

The participants in the discussion included Dr. Mozhdeh Bruss, lead professor on the Childhood Obesity Research Project, and Dr. Tim Michel professor of exercise physiology, both of Western Michigan University.

Bruss talked about the Project Familia, a parent/children education program which PSS implemented from 2005 to 2006.

The program, she said, aimed to help parents prevent obesity among their children.

A pediatrician from the Commonwealth Health Center noted that obesity is also occurring among children as young as three years old.

Also participating in the discussion were Vice Speaker Justo S. Quitugua, D-Saipan, Education Commissioner David Borja and Deputy Public Health Secretary Lyn Tenorio.

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