Empowering Families to Fight Obesity

Posted December 12, 2016 by Liz Barker

Happy girl eating healthy with family
Teaching families how to eat healthy could instill good lifestyle habits in children.

In Medicaid-funded programs across the country, families are learning how to achieve a healthy weight through better nutrition and increased fitness. To maximize the benefits of these programs—and protect children from long-term health problems like increased risk for heart disease—NICHQ recently gathered insights from participating families on the best approaches to tackling obesity, which was a primary objective for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation when it launched this initiative.

Last summer, NICHQ’s Kelley Devlin, MPH, RD, helped carry out face-to-face interviews with 28 families who participated in Medicaid-sponsored childhood obesity programs. Conducted as part of the Childhood Obesity Prevention and Treatment (CHOPT) project, the interviews informed the creation of a toolkit published by the Institute for Medicaid Innovation (IMI).

Featuring case studies of five successful Medicaid healthy weight programs in different U.S. cities, the IMI toolkit, Building a Culture of Health in Childhood Obesity: Overview & Action Plan for Medicaid, includes feedback from interviewed families on their experiences in these learning sessions. Along with sharing their thoughts on what they found most helpful like gaining new skills for healthy meal prep, interviewees suggested opportunities for improvement such as an increased focus on physical activity and expanded capacity for the programs.

“One of the main things that families wanted was for the programs to be offered for longer periods, more frequently and in more locations, so that even more people could get involved,” says Devlin.

The interviews also revealed a number of barriers families faced in applying what they learned when making lifestyle changes, including the often-prohibitive costs of healthier foods. What’s more, many families reported struggling with issues like lack of transportation and work-scheduling conflicts, which affected their participation. Instructors and clinicians appear to play valuable roles supporting families and helping them overcome such challenges.

“For a lot of the families, connecting with the people running their program was incredibly important to feeling empowered to make healthy changes,” Devlin says. “They especially appreciated it when the program adapted to and embraced their culture—like the Community Health Plan of Washington’s Kids Healthy Living Program, where the program served Hispanic families and everyone involved spoke Spanish.” 

Teaching Families and Communities as a Unit

In giving voice to parents at the center of the obesity epidemic, CHOPT emphasizes a crucial factor in obesity treatment and prevention: the impact of family relationships on food-related attitudes and behaviors.

“Obesity is often a family matter rather than an individual one,” says NICHQ Chief Operating Officer Judith Gooding, who facilitated CHOPT’s recent summit. “It’s near-impossible to change just one family member’s eating and activity habits—you need to engage the whole family in making those healthier choices.”

At the CHOPT convening meeting in October in Washington, D.C., participating families joined key stakeholders, Medicaid plans and the CHOPT advisory committee to examine and use the IMI toolkit and discuss strategies for future initiatives. In that discussion, many parents communicated a keen interest in reaching out to more families.

“One of the most remarkable things was the number of people wanting to be involved not just for their own children, but for the children of others,” says Gooding. “They wanted to know how they can help spread these ideas throughout their community, so that other families can benefit from these types of programs.”

As an example of a program with the power to effect community-wide change, Gooding points to a United Health Group initiative called Join for Me (one of the five programs featured in the toolkit). Join for Me works closely with YMCAs and other easily accessible community organizations, which Gooding considers essential to the fight against obesity.

“An organization like the Y can put out tentacles into the community in different and important ways, such as by bringing in a farmer’s market,” says Gooding. “When you think about the social determinants of obesity, getting more than one area of the community involved and working together to move forward is a major factor for success.”

While the IMI toolkit offers guidance in developing and adapting childhood obesity initiatives, families should be the primary resources for program ideas and implementation.

“The programs likely to have the greatest success are the ones where families aren’t just participating in the activities, but also helping to plan those activities,” Gooding says. “Instead of saying, ‘Kids need to eat better, so here’s a cooking class,’ we need to bring families together and learn from them, so we can do what the community really needs us to do.”

Share:

Add your comment

 
 

 

Archive

Tagcloud

baby box safe sleep nichq infant mortality family engagement quality improvement eccs coiin immunizations health equity health disparities accreditation im coiin astho qi onboarding collaboration engagement partnerships larc nashp breastfeeding new york wic new york state hospitals mom mother partners epilepsy data AAP early childhood pdsas texas community support learning session children's health new technology engineering transgender collaborative learning planning PDSA planning paralysis underplanning analysis paralysis vision eye health smoking smoke-free housing second-hand smoke toolkit e-module infant health dental care oral health underserved populations health inequity public health Maternal and Child Health Journal tips leadership engagement Sickle cell disease indiana SCD medicaid perinatal regionalization sudden infant death syndrome national birth defects prevention month birth defects pregnancy planning one key question prepregnancy health preconception health public breastfeeding support families patients experts insights CHOPT childhood obesity innovation food desert telemedicine TBLC breastfeeding supporting preterm birth prematurity racial disparities audiology ehdi follow-up illinois talana hughes vulnerable populations sports asthma soccer basketball obesity football SIDS Pokemon Go gamification smartphones interconception care birth spacing issue brief contraceptive use postpartum care CoIN HRSA early childhood trauma NHSA community health consumer advocacy womens health interconception health teenage health PATCH wisconsin missouri risk appropriate care community health workers SCD< infographic infant mortality awareness month inspirations childrens health national breastfeeding month maternal health patient engagement hearing loss hearing treatment pediatric vision vision screening eyesight pre-term birth early-term birth SCD clinic los angeles LOCATe CDC levels of care neonatal care maternal care smoking cessation project safe sleep practices neonatal abstinence syndrome NAS opioids maternal and child health MCH Family voices quality care mental health hydroxyurea SCDTDP men dads testing change data sharing state government city government apps sleep AJPM preconception care senior leadership breastfeeding support video series access BQIH exclusive breastfeeding long-acting reversible contraception unplanned pregnancies social determinants of health health innovations Best Babies Zone CoIIN baby boxes Rhode Island progesterone rooming-in Baby-Friendly parent partner patient and family engagement healthy weight healthy lifestyles primary care telementoring ECHO video conferencing socioemotional health childhood development pediatric Tennessee interview National Coordinating and Evaluation Center medical-legal partnerships mobile app disparities perinatal care overweight obese healthy weight clinic wellness pilot sites data collection education resources paternal engagement risk-appropriate care preterm infants high-risk babies Ten Steps public relations social movement reversible contraceptives medical home pediatric medical home patient transformation facilitator PTF skin-to-skin rooming in prenatal smoking information visualization charts SUID postpartum new mother webinar AMCHP QI Tips ongoing improvement fourth trimester partnership quality and safety coaching PDSA Cycle leadership support year end holiday message reflections gratitute Medicaid data doctor relationship PQC perinatal quality collaboratives vision care vision health evidence-based guidelines ASH health and wellness healthy living healthy eating home visitors home visiting programs March of Dimes APHA results evaluation supplementation formula reduction video infant loss social media advocacy leadership Berns Best Fed Beginnings Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding sustainability stress prenatal care data capacity epidemiologists surveillance data PFAC community partners preconception and interconception care motivational interviewing Native Americans ADHD NICHQ Vanderbilt Assessment Scale ADHD Toolkit system design care coordination skin to skin newborn screening reduce smoking aim statement safe birth Texas Ten Step skin-to-skin contact 10 Steps staff training small tests acute care mother-baby couplet collective impact population health preconception Newborn Screening Program substance abuse breast milk formula milk bank crisis Huffington Post fundraising campaign first responders NYC improvement healthcare health system sickle cell diease treatment protocol family health partner maternity care Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network Health Outcomes Cross-Sector Collaboration Knowledge Sharing Child Health