Baldwin Family Health Care Helping Combat Childhood Obesity

Although the recent headlines that obesity rates among preschool children in some areas of the country— including Michigan—have decreased for the first time in decades, poor eating habits and physical inactivity still plaque millions of kids across the country. One in 3 children in the United States is overweight or obese, putting them at risk for health problems. Countless initiatives and programs are aimed at reversing the childhood obesity trend, including Show Me Nutrition and Media Smart Youth that Baldwin Family Health Care offers at the schools in which it operates child and adolescent health centers.

“Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years. Our goal is to help turn it around, to put kids on the path for a healthy future, and we are working with them where they spend most of their time – at school,” said Char Botma, Child & Family Clinical Supervisor, Baldwin Family Health Care.

As a Michigan Health Center whose mission is to ensure everyone has access to quality, affordable health care regardless of insurance status or income level, Baldwin Family Health Care’s services promote prevention. Eating nutritious foods and being physically active are two ways children can help prevent health problems associated with obesity that were once only seen in adults, including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

“Show Me Nutrition and Media Smart Youth are packed with hands-on activities where kids can learn how to choose nutritious foods and move their bodies more,” said Botma. “The ultimate goal is to establish healthy habits that will last into adulthood.”

A total of 1,382 students are enrolled in these two courses across Baldwin, Grant, and White Cloud Schools.

“That’s a lot of young people learning to make healthier choices about the food they eat and how they spend their free time!” said Carol Burba, Child & Family Program Supervisor, Baldwin Family Health Care.

Show Me Nutrition, designed by University of Missouri Extension, is led by a Michigan State University nutrition associate in partnership with a Baldwin Family Health Care provider. Through fun activities, 6th graders learn about nutrition, food safety, physical activity, media influence, and body image.

Media Smart Youth is an after-school program for 11-13 year olds developed by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Students meet once a week for 10 weeks with Baldwin Family Health Care providers to build awareness of the media’s impact on their lifestyle choices, and develop skills for making make informed decisions about being physically active and eating nutritious foods.

Baldwin Family Health Care also provides individual nutrition and activity counseling for students whose body mass index is at the 95th percentile or above.

September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month—the perfect opportunity to help children learn about the importance of choosing nutritious foods and being physically active to maintain a healthy weight and body. How can your organization collaborate with schools, parents, and other partners to build a healthier future for the children in your community?

This past school year many of the 7th and 8th grade students participated in a 10-week nutrition course at White Cloud Middle School.  We tried to identify many habits that tend to lead to disease and shorter lives, and emphasized what choices would likely lead to stronger, longer lives.  Eight of the students were rewarded for their level of participation with Subway gift cards, and the grand prize winner, Breanna Sutherland, a new bike and helmet.

This past school year many 7th and 8th grade students participated in a 10-week nutrition course at White Cloud Middle School. The course helped the kids identify many habits that tend to lead to disease and shorter lives, and emphasis was placed on choices that would likely lead to stronger, longer lives. Eight of the students were rewarded for their level of participation with Subway gift cards, and the grand prize winner, Breanna Sutherland, a new bike and helmet. She is pictured here with Steve DeHaan, PA, of the child and adolescent health center in White Cloud.

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