LeeFit 5210 Program Targeting Obesity, Diabetes In Youths

March 8, 2012
By Louise Carver, via the Powell Valley News

Kay Matlock, Nurse Practitioner at Stone Mountain Health Services and team leader with the new LeeFit 5210 Program, presented a history and details of the program to the Lee County School Board on Tuesday, February 14, 2012, with the board voting to approve activities being planned to reduce the percentage of obesity in the schools and the community.

In her presentation, Matlock stated that during the Spring of 2011, the Health Resources Service Administration (HRSA) and the National Institute for Children’s Health Quality created an opportunity for ten teams across the United States to take part in their first Healthy Weight Collaborative. The selection of teams was very competitive with more than 200 original applications being submitted, applications being screened down to 80 applications, and finally ten teams (one team from each of HRSA’s 10 regions) being selected.

Matlock said she was shocked to have the Lee County program be selected as one of the 10 teams. “This is a big prospect for us,” she added.

Team LeeFit, a collaborative team consisting of members from local healthcare professionals (Stone Mountain Health Services), public health (Virginia Department of Health, Lenowisco Health District), schools (Lee County School System) and community organizations (Lee County Extension Agency), applied for and was selected to represent HRSA’s Region 3 in the pilot collaborative.

After many team meetings and two Learning Sessions (one in Washington, D.C., the other virtual), the team has planned activities to reach both children and their parents using the 5210 message. These activities will be spread throughout Lee County utilizing various venues and tools.

Matlock said Type II diabetes is caused by obesity. She listed the following proposed activities for exercise: Zumba in physical education classes, a poster contest for grades 5-8, which promotes the 5210 message for bill boards and the website, teeshirt prizes, a health fair, healthy snacks, a 26-mile marathon in the summer months, participation in local parades, and more.

The scientific rationale for 5210 includes five or more fruits and vegetables per day, two hours or less recreational screen time, one hour or more of physical activity, no sugary drinks, and more LeeFit 5210 Program Targeting Obesity, Diabetes In Youths water and low-fat milk.

A diet rich in fruits and vegetables provides vitamins and minerals, which are important for supporting growth and development, and for optimal immune function in children. High daily intakes of fruits and vegetables among adults are associated with lower rates of chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, and possibly some types of cancers. Emerging science suggests fruit and vegetable consumption may help prevent weight gain, and when total calories are controlled may be an important aid to achieving and sustaining weight loss.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the average child watches an average of five to six hours of television a day. Watching too much television is associated with an increased prevalence of overweight and obesity, lower reading scores, and attention problems. The AAP therefore recommends that children under age two shouldn’t watch any television. In addition, the AAP recommends no TV or computer in the room in which the child sleeps, and no more than two hours of screen time a day.

Regular physical activity is essential for weight maintenance and prevention of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer, and osteoporosis. While most school age children are quite active, physical activity sharply declines during adolescence. Children who are raised in families with active lifestyles are more likely to stay active as adults than children raised in families with sedentary lifestyles.

Sugar-sweetened beverage consumption has increased dramatically over the past 20 years; high intake among children is associated with overweight and obesity, displacement of milk consumption, and dental cavities. Recommendations are that children one to six years old consume no more than four to six ounces of juice per day and youth 7-18 years old consume no more than 8-12 ounces. Whole milk is the single largest source of saturated fat in children’s diets. Switching to low or non-fat milk products significantly reduces dietary saturated and total fat, as well as total calories.

Matlock said the school system is an extremely important partner in the endeavor to improve the health of the children of Lee County. Schools are where the children are found on a regular basis. The message of 5210 must be consistent across all venues: schools, healthcare, public health and community organizations and activities. The message must not only be consistent, but must address parent participation as well as child participation and buy-in.

“The task the team has undertaken is phenomenal, according to Matlock, who added, “In order to accomplish a lasting impact upon the future of our children as well as the adults in our community, we must start with the message and develop and implement ways of spreading the message, places for community activities, activities to encourage children to participate in physical activities, and cultural adaptation of healthy habits in both physical and nutritional behavior.”

Matlock said the Lee County program is being modeled after “Let’s Go!”, a program of The Kids Co-op at the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center, which uses a multi-sector approach to reach youth and families where they live, study, work, and play to reinforce the importance of healthy eating and active living. The program is based on the premise that if families are exposed to the health promotion messages through several settings, and if those settings have policies and environments that support healthy choices, they will be more likely to adopt or maintain the behaviors in their daily lives.

The Let’s Go! multi-sector model includes the core principals of:
• Environmental and Policy Change Influences Behavior Change.
• Interconnectivity Across Sectors is Essential.
• Strategies are Evidence Based and Continuously Evaluated.

The Let’s Go! program interventions center on the use of the common message of “5210”. The following behaviors are supported by science and endorsed as recommendations by medical professionals:

5 or more fruits and vegetables.
2 hours or less recreational screen time*.
1 hour or more of physical activity.
0 sugary drinks, more water and low fat milk.
* Keep TV/Computer out of the bedroom. No screen time under the age of two.

Let’s Go! has identified strategies and created tools to support and evaluate those strategies. All of these sectors are supported by a marketing campaign that utilizes multiple methods of communication including television advertising.