St. Joseph Health, as part of its continuous focus on obesity prevention, has devised an innovative program called “Healthy 4 Life,” to provide NAPA County school children with education on healthy eating.
While one in three American children is considered overweight or obese, in Napa County the numbers are mind-boggling: 40% of 5th, 7th and 9th grade students (and 60% of adults) are overweight or obese. Obesity puts these children and adults in greater risk of developing high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other health complications.
St. Joseph Health, Queen of the Valley Medical Center, in Napa, through its “Healthy 4 Life” campaign, provides pre-school children and children attending grades K-12 at Napa Valley Unified School District with nutritional activities and physical fitness.
Jeff Kresge, Healthy 4 Life Program Manager at Queen of the Valley Medical Center says:
“Proper diet and exercise are early interventions that prevent future health problems while increasing mental function and academic performance. 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.”
Registered dietitians visit the schools and teach children various nutritional concepts such as importance of eating breakfast and replacing sugar-sweetened drinks with water and milk. Children are engaged in dancing and active games with the help of certified instructors. And the activities aren’t just for the children alone. Since healthy lifestyle starts at home, the parents of preschoolers are also offered tips on various topics such as healthy eating on a budget, portion control, and cooking. As a result, the students are motivated to spend more time in physical activity and maintain a healthy diet.
The full and half-day workshops are held each year and are free to the children and their family. The program is developed in partnership with the American Academy of Pediatrics and community partners.
St. Joseph Health believes these early intervention techniques will stop future health problems, improve academic performance and teach children healthy lifestyle skills they can carry into adulthood.