Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival Adds Children to the Mix with ''Fun and Fit as a Family'': First of Its Kind Initiative Addressing Childhood Obesity

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The 2008 Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival presented by Food & Wine Magazine announces the launch of the new interactive community-based initiative - Fun and Fit as a Family presented by South Beach Diet and Travel + Leisure Family - to address the real danger of the obesity epidemic currently plaguing school-aged children.

The Childhood Obesity Initiative: Scientists join forces with culinary stars for change. A fresh start for the next generation

    Taking place February 23rd - 24th, at Jungle Island, Miami's premiere theme park, the Fun and Fit as a Family "mini-festival" within the main festival will bring together some of the world's greatest celebrity chefs and personalities, health professionals and fitness experts to educate children and their parents about how to adopt healthier, more active lifestyles.

In partnership with The Parent Academy of Miami-Dade County Public Schools and Share Our Strength's Operation Frontline, Fun and Fit as a Family will welcome families with school-aged children to two days of interactive educational activities that showcase fun ways to exercise and make healthier food choices. This grassroots campaign will also serve to contribute to a school-based healthy lifestyle initiative and after-school program to improve overall academic performance and reduce rates of childhood obesity.

Fun and Fit as a Family Weekend program highlights include:

-- Healthy cooking demonstrations led by Food Network's Rachael Ray, Jamie Oliver, Tyler Florence, Ellie Krieger and Robin Miller as well as well known chefs Art Smith and Allen Susser.

-- The Children's Sustainable Food Garden presented by Agatston Research Foundation and the 2008 South Beach Wine & Food Festival's Fun and Fit as a Family will give children the opportunity to explore, touch, smell and taste fruits, vegetables and herbs from the garden while learning from garden guides.

-- Team sports, life-long fitness skill building activities like Pilates and fitness challenges.

-- Food Labs where families don aprons and get their hands messy with local chefs as they experience an extra-sensory understanding of the five major food groups.

-- Parents and children can also walk from food station to food station, trying nutritious snacks and drinks prepared by health-conscious exhibitors, and learn about new products and projects aimed at a healthy lifestyle.

-- Interactive exhibits including heart rate and calorie burning monitoring.

Fun and Fit as a Family promises to be a family-oriented weekend where education is thoroughly mixed with entertainment, whisked by exercise and topped by a new understanding about nutritious eating and healthy living. For more information and to purchase tickets visit http://www.funandfitasfamily.com or call 877-762-3933.

The festival will kick off Friday, February 22nd, at the Ritz-Carlton South Beach with "Culinary Stars Rachael Ray, Jamie Oliver and Alice Waters Join Forces with Scientists for Change: A Fresh Start for Our Children" featuring health experts and celebrity chefs who are actively involved in their communities presenting evidence-based approaches to childhood obesity prevention. The group includes Alice Waters on behalf of Edible Schoolyard Program; Rachael Ray's Yum-O initiative, Jamie Oliver's School Dinners Project and Dr. Arthur Agatston's Healthier Options for Public School Children (HOPS) Study. Also on hand to participate will be, among others, Dr. David Ludwig of Harvard University and author of Ending the Food Fight: Guide Your Child to a Healthy Weight in a Fast Food/Fake Food World and Dr. Gary Foster of Temple University and Principal Investigator of HEALTHY funded by the NIH.

For more information on "The Childhood Obesity Initiative: Scientists join forces with culinary stars for change. A fresh start for the next generation" and to purchase tickets, visit http://www.sobewineandfoodfest.com or call 1-877-762-3933.

Fun and Fit as a Family presented by South Beach Diet and Travel + Leisure Family is brought to you by the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival presented by Food & Wine magazine. Fun and Fit as a Family is also made possible through the John S. & James L. Knight Foundation, The Children's Trust and Health Foundation of South Florida. The Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival is produced by Florida International University and Southern Wine & Spirits of Florida with the support of the Miami Beach Visitors & Convention Authority and the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs. For more information about Florida International University visit http://www.fiu.edu, for the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management visit http://www.hospitality.fiu.edu and for more information about Southern Wine & Spirits visit http://www.southernwine.com.

The Agatston Research Foundation, founded by Arthur S. Agatston, MD, is a non-profit research foundation dedicated to improving the heart health and wellness of the nation through research, education, and prevention. The largest study conducted by the Foundation is the Healthier Options for Public Schoolchildren (HOPS) Study, led by Danielle Hollar, PhD. This study seeks to prevent chronic diseases associated with obesity by tackling obesity in early life through elementary school-based prevention strategies that thematically integrate healthy dietary offerings, nutrition and healthy lifestyle educational curricula, increased levels of physical activity, and other school-based projects, such as school gardens in a replicable manner.

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Robin Insley
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