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October 10, 2012

Program looks to make healthy eating count

By Mark Boshnack
The Daily Star

---- — Healthier lifestyles can be achieved by counting “5-2-1-0” — this is the hope of Bassett Healthcare Network and Edmeston school officials. They will unveil a pilot program to improve children’s health at 6:30 p.m. today in the Edmeston school cafeteria, and the community is invited.

Officials from Bassett and Edmeston talked about the effort at a media conference at the school Tuesday. Bassett is having discussions with community and school groups in Delhi about introducing the roadmap to better health for our children,” according to a media release.

The Let’s Go 5-2-1-0 program involves Bassett Research Institute, Bassett Medical Center and community partners in an effort to combat rising rates of overweight and obese children. If successful, it could grow to include other communities in the region.

The program engages various sections of the community in promoting healthy choices for kids, Bassett’s Center for Rural Community Health Director David Strogatz said. His group is part of the Research Institute leading the effort.

The initiative’s name comes from its four components: five or more fruits and vegetables, two hours or less with recreational screen time, one hour or more of physical activity and zero sugary drinks and more water or low-fat milk.

“We are pleased to be partnering with Bassett,” Edmeston Superintendent Brian Hunt said. The school has a history of programs that encourage long-term health. This includes Bassett’s school based health center, a morning exercise program, and using fresh produce grown in the school garden in the cafeteria.

“We know healthier kids do better in school,” Hunt said. So, he welcomes this “no-cost opportunity” to try to improve the health of the community. These efforts make Edmeston a natural partner for this program, Strogatz said.

Bassett Research Institute surveys the communities it serves every 10 years to monitor health needs. The most recent survey identified the need for action on the national problem with weight. A working group identified the 5-2-1-0 program that was developed in Maine as the best path, Strogatz said. One of the benefits is that even the title helps everyone know the goals, he said, and it’s designed to involve the whole community.

With planning to continue through the rest of this year, the program will be implemented in 2013-14. If successful, the goal would be to find additional resources and expand it. It will take two years of trial and error to find what works best, he said.