Childhood obesity is a serious problem throughout the country, and one that’s influenced by community behavior as well as individual habits.
This was the message eagerly received by participants in the Obesity Collaborative when Dr. Stephen Cook, associate professor of pediatrics at University of Rochester Medical Center, spoke to a crowd of about 50 people Wednesday night at Brooks’ House of Bar-B-Q.
The collaborative is a model program for initiating community strategies to prevent childhood obesity and Cook has been active in encouraging communities to participate.
“Community health advocacy is a very important part of pediatrics,” said Cook who is also a coordinator of the Greater Rochester Obesity Collaborative. “Child care and the transition to adulthood is very different now. There are different issues to consider. It used to be that children died from preventable diseases or because they did not come to term. But with technological advances, we can see a change in the healthcare of children.”
Last year Bassett Research Institute at Bassett Medical Center in Cooperstown initiated a program to improve the health of area children in Edmeston and Delhi called “Let’s Go 5-2-1-0.”
“Let’s Go 5-2-1-0” focuses on schools, worksites, health care providers, preschools and after-school programs in promoting and making available healthy choices and educating children. The program calls for five servings of fruits and vegetables, two hours or less of recreational screen time, one hour or more of physical activity and zero sugary drinks each day.
Many of the participants have found creative ways that not only have encouraged children to see their food differently, but have helped many aspects of the two communities live healthier lifestyles.
“We use food that has been grown in our greenhouse,” said Edmeston Central School Superintendent Brian Hunt. “Edmeston has fit so well with the ‘5-2-1-0’ program. We grow our own food and we serve it in the cafeteria. We also use the greenhouse as a teaching tool. One of the art projects in our school was to design a logo for our freshly grown fruits and vegetables. Now we label the food and our students know when it comes from the school’s greenhouse.”