Academic journal article American Journal of Health Education

Community Resources for Promoting Youth Nutrition and Physical Activity

Academic journal article American Journal of Health Education

Community Resources for Promoting Youth Nutrition and Physical Activity

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Childhood obesity is a national public health crisis. The National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP), the National Institutes of Health and Kaiser Permanente have developed community tools and resources for children and families to lower their risk for obesity through healthier, active lifestyles. The authors describe innovative practices and community mobilization case studies from the NDEP "Move It! and Reduce Your Risk for Diabetes" program and the NIH We Can![TM]--Ways to Enhance Children's Activity and Nutrition, and programs from Kaiser Permanente for the promotion of healthier lifestyles for children and families. Replication of these creative programs can be modified to be implemented in communities throughout the United States.

INTRODUCTION

Calling the prevention of childhood overweight and obesity a "national health priority," the Institute of Medicine in 2005 outlined a series of recommendations to stem this epidemic. (1) One of those recommendations called on "local governments, public health agencies, schools and community organizations [to] collaboratively develop and promote programs that encourage healthful eating behaviors and regular physical activity, particularly for populations at high risk of childhood obesity. Community coalitions should be formed to facilitate and promote cross-cutting programs and community wide-efforts." (1) In addition, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Steps to a Healthier US initiative aims to encourage state programs and community efforts "to prevent and reduce the costs of disease, improve people's lives and promote community health and wellness." (2)

To meet this national crisis of childhood obesity and the increasing incidence of childhood type 2 diabetes, the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) has developed community tools and resources for children and families to lower their risk for diabetes through healthier, active lifestyles. NDEP, a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Diabetes Translation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease (NIDDK) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), was created in 1997. Involving over 200 public and private partner organizations, NDEP and its partners share a joint mission of improving the treatment and outcomes of people with diabetes, promoting the early diagnosis of diabetes and preventing or delaying the onset of diabetes in those at highest risk, and translating the results of clinical trials to the general public and to health care professionals in a clinically useful way.

Following is a description of innovative practices from NDEP, NIH and Kaiser Permanente for mobilizing community resources for the promotion of healthier lifestyles for children and families. The NDEP approach included here is the NDEP's "Move It! And Reduce your Risk of Diabetes" school kit, an NDEP program that encourages incorporation of physical activity into everyday life.

Another community based effort of the NIH, We Can![TM]--Ways to Enhance Children's Activity and Nutrition, was developed to help community organizations assist children and families to maintain a healthy weight. Launched in 2005 by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute in collaboration with the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and the National Cancer Institute We Can![TM] it is a synergistic movement of communities across the nation to improve family food choices, increase physical activity and reduce screen time in children ages 8-13 years old.

Kaiser Permanente also strongly advocates for the promotion of healthier lifestyles to reduce obesity related morbidity, especially in school settings. Under its campaign "Thrive," Kaiser Permanente has developed Educational Theatre Programs to educate children and teens on health issues such as nutrition and physical activity through drama, music, and humor. …

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