Childhood obesity initiative
The problem of childhood obesity in the United States has grown considerably in recent years. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, between 16 and 33 percent of children and adolescents are obese. Factors contributing to this epidemic include improper nutrition, physical inactivity, genetics and lifestyle. In response to this epidemic, AmeriHealth Caritas Pennsylvania created the "Healthy You, Healthy Me" childhood obesity initiative. The program was designed to help youth, their parents and caregivers in both home and community settings,
AmeriHealth Caritas Community Outreach Department partners with community organizations to administer this health education program focusing on obesity prevention. Community Health Liaisons conduct 45-minute health sessions for elementary-school-aged children throughout the AmeriHealth Caritas service area. The health education sessions create awareness among elementary school aged children about the importance of eating healthy and staying active.
The Healthy You, Healthy Me program offers resources for parents and caregivers to make healthy choices for their families; advocates for serving healthier food in schools and ensuring access to healthy and affordable food; and increases opportunities for physical activity for children in school and the community.
Healthy You, Healthy Me program has specific goals for children that include:
- Increasing physical activity
- Improving nutrition through smart snacking
- Increased consumption of fruits and vegetables
- Increased healthy lifestyle awareness
- Reduction of Body Mass Index (BMI)
In 2010, Healthy You, Healthy Me had successful results in a partnership with a local church in York, Pa. 25 children ages 7-12 participated in a summer camp at Shiloh Faith Based Empowerment Human Services Organization SMART Camp in York, Pennsylvania. The program lasted for 6 weeks and participants met five days per week for 45 minutes each session for a total 37.5 hours of intervention.
As a result of the program:
- 38 percent of the participants in the July 2010 program decreased their BMI
- Nearly 41 percent of participants finished the 2010 program at healthy weight, between the fifth and 85th percentile of children their age.
If your organization would like AmeriHealth Caritas to partner with you to sponsor a Healthy You, Healthy Me program in your area, please contact:
Lori McNew, Director, Quality and Community Outreach