Obesity Prevention - Current Initiatives
The following is a description of the Obesity Prevention and Control Program’s SFY16 current initiatives and services.
Ensuring Alaskan’s have the most current physical activity and nutrition information
Program staff provides expert advice to Alaska print, television and radio media on topics related to obesity, nutrition, physical activity, and the Play Every Day campaign. The program also releases health information by broadcasting Public Service Announcements and through its social media networks and its weekly blog.
Play Every Day!
The Play Every Day campaign delivers Alaska-specific messages focused on raising awareness about childhood obesity in Alaska and encouraging parents and families to prioritize daily physical activity and serving fewer sugary drinks to their families.
The Play Every Day campaign The Play Every Day campaign educates parents about the
benefits of physical activity and provides ideas to increase the amount
of physical activity for children to meet the national recommendation of
60 minutes every day needed for good health. Play Every Day also
encourages parents to serve their families fewer sugary drinks and to
serve water and fat-free or low-fat milk as the healthiest drink
Play Every Day uses community and school events, as well as media and other marketing resources, to create a campaign aimed at increasing youth and family physical activity, promoting participation in the Healthy Futures Challenge and physical activity events, and reducing sugary drink consumption.
Through our partnership with Healthy Futures, student participation in the Healthy Futures Challenge grew from 1,342 elementary students in 2011 to more than 15,000 students in 2015.
Healthy Futures, the signature program of the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame, encourages kids to build the habit of daily physical activity through three main efforts:
- Running a Physical Activity Log Challenge through Alaska elementary schools, and awarding prizes that promote physical activity to children who complete the challenge.
- Supporting community physical activity events by making them fun and affordable for families. These recreational events offer no- to low-cost safe physical activity opportunities. Simply by participating, all kids are rewarded with medals and cheers.
- Working with positive, physically active Alaska role models, including Olympians Kikkan Randall, Lars Flora, Holly Brooks, and Aelin Peterson; national hockey stars Scott Gomez, Joey Crabb and Tim Wallace; and Yukon Quest dog sled champion Aliy Zirkle.
The Healthy Futures Physical Activity Log Challenge happens twice a year in Alaska elementary schools. Participation in the challenge gets children closer to the national recommendation of at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day for good health.
The program provides professional development opportunities and follow-up technical assistant to school staff implementing, communicating, and enforcing strong school wellness policies that support high-quality physical education, increase daily student physical activity, and improve the school nutrition environment including bringing local, farm fresh foods, Alaska fish and salad bars to schools.
Hosting trainings for school district staff and teachers
The program partners with the Alaska Department of Education & Early Development to provide professional development opportunities to school food service staff, school nurses, physical education and health teachers by hosting the annual School Health & Wellness Institute.
To provide an affordable opportunity for school staff to learn, the program hosts Alaska specific webinar trainings. School staff training has focused on implementing PE programs that increase the length of, or activity levels in, school-based physical education classes. School food service staff training has focused on installing and improving salad bars in schools, improving the connection to local farmers and gardens, and increasing the amount of wild Alaska fish served in school.
Supporting local foods in school
Through our partnership with the Division of Agriculture and the UAF Cooperative Extension Services the program developed a Salad Bars in Schools recipe book. The recipes use local Alaska foods and meet the USDA guidelines for meals served in schools.
Improving child care centers
The Program works with early care and education (ECE) programs and partners to prevent childhood obesity and improve the health of Alaska’s young children (birth to 5 years old). The program provides technical assistance and resources to help child care educators provide a healthy environment that supports and encourages healthy eating and physically active.
Improving the Alaska food system
The program hosts an Americorp volunteers to provide administrative support to the Alaska Food Policy Council (AFPC). Today, over 250 individuals from federal and state agencies, tribal entities, university programs, farmers, fisheries, and food systems businesses, participate in the AFPC. The Alaska Food Policy Council strengthens Alaska’s food systems to spur local economic development, increase food security, and improve nutrition and health.
Assessing the weight status of students
The program developed and maintains the Alaska Student Weight Status Surveillance System (SWSSS) which is the source for student weight status. The program analyzes and reports weight status of voluntary school districts that collect student heights and weight to assess the health of the student population. School district officials use the trends to increase awareness of the extent of weight problems to school and health personnel, community members, and policy makers. The trends also provide an evaluation measure of the effectiveness of school district wellness policies, practices, programs and efforts to improve school health. Use of student height and weight data has strengthened school district grant applications by clearly identifying need, target populations, and by providing an evaluation mechanism. Alaska Student Weight Status results for each voluntary district are available online.
Increasing public access to obesity related statistics
An unfortunately common bottleneck in public health is data dissemination. Capacity to collect and analyze public health data far outstrips the capacity to meaningfully interpret, develop and publish useful reports about the prevalence of obesity and its nutrition and physical activity related behaviors. Despite these challenges, the program continues to produce a comprehensive Alaska Obesity Facts report, reports on the prevalence of overweight and obesity among Alaskans, and fact sheets on obesity and its related behaviors. Annually, the program contributes to obesity related data on Informed Alaskans to increase the public’s access to information.
Managing and administrating
Sufficient administrative and management capacity within a state health department will enable the program to plan strategic efforts, provide strong leadership, provide good fiscal management and accountability of activities, and foster collaboration among the state and community coalitions in a way that reduces duplication of effort among partners. An adequate number of skilled staff is also necessary to provide program oversight, technical assistance, and training for the public and partners.
Initiatives & activities by Fiscal Year: