American Obesity Foundation’s (AOF’s) initiatives are premised on, the fact that, a single intervention does not work in the fight against the obesity epidemic. Rather, a multi-pronged approach needs to be adopted in reversing years of entrenched poor eating, exercise habits and lifestyle choices. Undoubtedly, this calls for collaborations from all community stakeholders: parents, employers, schools, community leaders, businesses, residents, elected officials and members of the clergy.
The following represents highlights to some AOFs programs under our Healthy Communities Initiative:
Neighborhood Obesity Care Program: Implementation of evidence-based strategies for obesity management in high risk and affected communities to address and prevent childhood obesity and obesity-related suffering, such as, type-2 diabetes, asthma and breast cancer.
Childhood Obesity & Type-2 Diabetes Prevention Program: There are about 27 million Americans suffering from type-2 diabetes and another 86 million in pre-diabetes phase. The underlying causes of diabetes are genes and obesity. It stands to reason the American Obesity Foundation would be in the fore front of the fight to prevent and end diabetes, an obesity-related illness, especially among children and young people. This initiative will focus on: high-risk school districts, low income housing neighborhoods, Child Care and After-School programs. In tandem with American Diabetes Association, AOF Community Wellness Coaches, nutritionists, dieticians, social workers, outreach expansions are planned to drive: mental well-being, behavioral changes, active living, healthy food choices, meal preparation, exercise habits that promote reduction in sedentary habits, such as, watching television for long hours.
Health-is-Wealth Behavioral Initiative: Research shows, once people shift their psychological perspective for the better, change is more likely guaranteed. AOF places great emphasis on the importance of behavioral health, self-esteem, acceptance and decision-making abilities in the fight against obesity. Towards this objective, AOF promotes integration of behavioral health (self-esteem, acceptance, crisis management and decision-making) and healthy choices of food, drinks, exercise and related lifestyle changes, such as, violence and crime reduction, safety, wholesome relationships and finances.
Houses of Faith Obesity Prevention Program: Spirituality promotes a sense of well-being for both the mind and the body. Based on this fact, AOF hopes to work closely with houses of faith in low income neighborhoods to foster a strong foundation for making healthy choices. As another innovative and fresh approach in the fight against obesity, Houses-of-Faith Obesity Prevention programs are designed to: stop bad habits, such as, drinking soda, sweetened beverages, caloric intake, smoking; choosing fresh fruits and vegetables over salty /packaged food, importance of at-home meals preparation and relationship bonding; get kids, parents, pastors and members moving to prevent obesity and illness.
An Apple a Day, Keeps the Doctor Away (Mobile Clinic): As part of the Obesity Care Program, AOF mobile trucks will regularly canvass neighborhoods earmarked as high-risk to inform and educate residents about the necessity of eating fresh fruits and vegetables on a consistent basis; screenings for body-mass index, conduct community nutrition classes targeted at small groups of residents, especially, in low income housing areas, school districts and neighborhoods. This will both build awareness and increase name recognition for AOF work.
Community Wellness Coaches Initiative (CWC): These are associates who are both long time residents of the communities they serve coupled with requisite training and cultural sensitivities for the populations in question. Focused on outreach and preventative obesity care, nutrition, family support and wellness education, the Community Wellness Coaches (CWC) interact on a one-on-one basis, consistently or with groups of participants towards changing mindsets and entrenched behavioral patterns, but especially, nutrition, active living and personal goals. The CWC is an integral part of the Obesity Care, and Health-is-Wealth Behavioral Program.
Walk-for-Ten to End Obesity: A program designed to encourage residents to take small steps by walking for at least ten to fifteen minutes each day. The goal is to gradually increase the time, intensity and consistency of physical exercise, in order, to reap its many health benefits, such as, reducing obesity, high blood pressure, hypertension, diabetes and other obesity-related diseases.
Pets-N-Owners Stay-Fit Initiative: A caring society is one that also cares for its pets. Evidence shows when pets are over-weight, it is very likely its owners are suffering from obesity, as well, and vice versa. To increase awareness for obesity prevention for pets (cats and dogs) and their owners, the Pets-N-Owners Stay Fit Program is an innovative, creative and integral part of AOFs campaign for healthy feeding and healthcare of pets, to prevent and eradicate suffering from obesity and obesity-related diseases across America.
Nile-America & Healthy Kitchens Initiative: Dissects the eating, diet and exercise habits of African Americans and minorities; people centered and targeted towards nutritional education, sleep patterns, stress-free living, relaxation techniques, behavioral counseling and referrals to local healthy and affordable food /resources. Registered dieticians, nutritionists and CWCs will be involved in educating participants and demonstrating some best meal preparation strategies from Healthy Kitchens.
Health Buddies (HB) Program: A buddy system to promote healthy choices among middle and high school students during school hours and after-school /tutoring programs. The hope is the healthy habits learned as young adults will stay with this group for the long term as they become young adults and pass the message on healthy living to the next generation.
Child Care Obesity Prevention Initiative: What’s-On-Your-Plate? A creative game designed for kids to foster a healthy culture through good eating habits, nutritional values and exercise. Targeted at kids, ages 2 – 10.
What’s-In-Your-Cup? Another highly interactive, fun-filled game designed for pre-schoolers to pre-pubescent kids. In addition to these educational games, the Child Care Obesity Prevention Project is aimed at child care centers, prenatal care programs, nurseries, toddlers, pre-schoolers, and pre-pubescent kids and after-school programs.
Mother-Infant Obesity Prevention Workshop: Mothers are some of the most powerful groups to teach, nurture and prepare children for a healthy, quality life. AOF believes it is never too early to start passing on the message, hence, an emphasis on a hands-on workshop /module that allows young mothers to learn about breast feeding, nutrition, fresh and affordable options from local stores and best preparation methods for their infants. (Ages 0 to 5)
Obesity Helpline (24/7) for information on everything obesity and obesity-related diseases, such as: diabetes, hypertension, high blood pressure, cardio-vascular, even cancer.
CAMPAIGN for NOVEMBER: AOF seeks to partner with other community-based organizations (CBOs) to push for November as a national obesity-prevention recognition month. November, as Obesity-Prevention Month to be observed in schools, workplaces, homes and during Thanksgiving celebrations across America.
Safe, Open Spaces for Obesity Prevention Program: AOF plans to increase efforts for safe, open and crime free spaces to promote exercises, stress-free lifestyle changes and relaxation, particularly for under-resourced and low income neighborhoods.