As childhood obesity continues to rise, communities are seeking ways to keep their young people healthy. To that end, EDC is evaluating a new initiative that employs a holistic approach in five community health centers.
EDC is working with the CAVU Foundation to evaluate aspects of the program, known as the Healthy Weight Initiative (HWI). The initiative brings together the services of a physician, nutritionist, and case manager at each participating community health center (CHC), while also developing cross-center collaboration for sharing information and resources.
“We are evaluating the cross-center collaborative—what CHCs get from it, what they learn about collaborating, and whether the initiative builds their capacity and desire to collaborate in the future,” says EDC’s Leslie Goodyear.
CAVU believes the success of HWI is linked to the strengths of the collaborative, which allows center staff to share ideas and resources. “CAVU is interested in bringing this model to other CHCs and organizations like the Boys & Girls Club, but they want to know it is working before they add more ingredients,” says EDC’s Sophia Mansori.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the obesity rate for children ages 6–11 has doubled over the past 20 years, while that for adolescents ages 12–19 has more than tripled. Among low-income populations, these rates are even higher.
At each of the participating centers, overweight children meet with a physician, who diagnoses and treats any health issues they have; a nutritionist, who develops a weight-loss plan; and a case manager, who connects them to physical activity resources in their communities and tracks the progress of the child and family in following through with the plan. The health care professionals at each center are supported with technical assistance and resources from CAVU.
Four CHCs from Massachusetts are taking part in the initiative: the Greater Lawrence Family Health Center, the Holyoke Health Center, the Codman Square Health Center, and the Whittier Street Health Center. Additionally, the Coastal Family Health Center in Biloxi, Mississippi, has received funding from Johnson & Johnson to participate in the Healthy Weight Initiative.
Originally published on October 24, 2008