Obesity is a concerning trend across the country, particularly as it affects young people who have not had the opportunity to have learned the basics of eating right. One in three American children are overweight or obese. In Napa County, the numbers are even more staggering: According to the last published Napa County 2013 Community Health Needs Assessment, 40% of 5th, 7th and 9th grade students (and 60% of adults) in Napa County are overweight or obese, which puts them at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and other health issues.
As part of its ongoing focus on obesity prevention, St. Joseph Health is sending nutrition education into its Northern California communities: St. Joseph Health, Queen of the Valley Medical Center, in Napa, brings “Healthy 4 Life” to local schools in Napa and American Canyon. The innovative program provides physical fitness and nutritional activities to pre-school children and children attending grades K-12 at Napa Valley Unified School District.
“Proper diet and exercise are early interventions that prevent future health problems while increasing mental function and academic performance,” says Jeff Kresge, Healthy 4 Life Program Manager at Queen of the Valley Medical Center. “But to achieve a healthy lifestyle, children need education, and that’s what Healthy 4 Life provides. There’s a tremendous need to address the rising trends in obesity, and this program is helping children build habits that will keep them fit and well as they grow.”
Healthy 4 Life sends registered dietitians to schools to share important nutrition concepts, from the importance of eating breakfast and following My Plate guidelines, to substituting water and milk for sugar-sweetened drinks. Certified fitness instructors engage the children in dancing, non-competitive active games and team-building activities. Parents are included too: Healthy 4 Life’s health educator meets with parents of preschoolers to offer tips on topics like healthy eating on a budget, portion control, and cooking. The result is that students in the program spend more time in physical activity and learn to maintain a healthy relationship with food.
Developed in collaboration with the American Academy of Pediatrics and community partners, the Healthy 4 Life curriculum is being provided to students at no cost to them, their families, or their schools.
Healthy 4 Life exemplifies how St. Joseph Health devotes attention and resources to population health—committing to solving health challenges, like obesity, that affect entire communities, not just hospitalized patients.
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional's instructions.