The students at Gratz-Brown Elementary School in Moberly get excited every Tuesday and Thursday when the final school bell rings. This is not because school is over for the day, but because Running Club is about to start. The Running Club was started by Principal Della Bell and is in its second year.
"We've got 160 this year and last year we started and had about 130," Bell says.
The club promotes running, endurance, pacing, and healthy eating. Bell says that the school received a grant in the past year to help students eat healthier while in school.
"Encouraging kids to have a more active lifestyle has definitely been a benefit," she says. "We also made some changes to our food service regarding sodium and the type of flour and fried foods and starting last year we have a fresh fruit and vegetable bar."
All of these changes are taking place because in the past few years, the Randolph County Health Department has released studies about the high obesity rate throughout the county. One study released in June of 2013 found that just around 35 percent of adults in Randolph County are obese.
Leona Greer is the nutrition and breast feeding coordinator at the health department. She believes the obesity rate is a hard thing to change.
"You are talking a lot about changing lifestyle and reaching a lot of different people, not only adults which are much harder to change than children and I think you need to start with the youth to make a really big change," Greer says.
Gratz-Brown is certainly trying to make that change. Angelina Taylor is a student at the school and is in her second year of the running. It is one of her favorite parts of the week to go and run, saying the color run and 5Ks are her favorite.
"We did it last year at the end of the year. We got paint squirted at us. It was a lot of fun," she says.
Her mother, Ivy Taylor, encourages all three of her children to keep up with running club and to be healthier at home because she believes that the obesity rate is much higher than it needs to be.
"They know the difference between a healthy snack and an unhealthy snack, they just generally like to exercise and work their muscles and their endurance has improved," Taylor says.
Belle believes that as the program grows, the children at Gratz-Brown will help lower obesity statistics in the future.
This story originally aired as part of Under the Microscope, a weekly program about science, health, and technology in mid-Missouri.