Obesity causes or exacerbates numerous chronic diseases and conditions that can lead to death, including diabetes and hypertension. In an effort to address the obesity epidemic in Arkansas, the governor-led Healthy Active Arkansas (HAA) initiative was launched to provide a 10-year framework with phased goals to increase the percentage of Arkansans who are at a healthy weight. As part of this initiative and support by funding from the Blue & You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas, the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement convened five statewide learning network meetings to engage, recruit, and activate a network of local champions to assist in meeting these goals. This study, featuring a unique public-private partnership through NEA Baptist Charitable Foundation’s Center for Healthy Children, is part of a series of case studies highlighting success stories from the HAA Statewide Learning Network.
- Seeing the need for obesity engagement in children, the NEA Baptist Charitable Foundation formed the Center for Healthy Children “to teach, motivate, and guide overweight children and their families how to build a solid foundation of proper nutrition and regular exercise for a healthy lifestyle.”
- The Center accepts 80 to 100 children into a no-cost 12-week program that engages children in regular exercise and proper nutrition, equips them with resources, and promotes lifelong healthy lifestyles. Based on the demand and success of this program, the center developed a similar program for teens 13 to 17 years of age.
- As part of this program, parents learn cooking tips, healthy selection techniques
- The center has served approximately 1,100 children over the program’s existence. To date, approximately 35 percent of the children between ages 8 and 12 have been successful in reducing their BMI. Approximately 20 percent have been successful in reducing their BMI into a normal range.