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Community Health Needs Assessment | Financial Assistance

Inland Family Practices Fight Childhood Obesity

letsgo.jpgOver the past 30 years, the rate of children ages 6-11 who are overweight or obese has nearly tripled and for the first time in history, children born today are likely to live a shorter life than their parents. In Maine, 28% of Maine kindergarten students are overweight or obese and the statistics remain about the same for high school age children*. Medical costs related to preventable health woes linked to obesity continue to soar.

A program called “Let’s Go!” is one proven solution to help combat the childhood obesity epidemic that’s working here in Maine. Let’s Go! reaches children and families where they live, learn, work and play with a consistent message that promotes four healthy behaviors: 5 – 2 – 1 – 0. (5 or more fruits & vegetables; 2 hours of less recreational screen time; 1 hour or more of active play; and 0 sugary drinks/more water & low fat milk per day) The nationally recognized program designed to increase healthy eating and active living in children is growing in schools, daycares, workplaces, healthcare sites, after-school programs, and communities around the state and across the country.

Inland Hospital, a Let’s Go! Kennebec partner and member of EMHS (Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems), plans to implement the program in all of its hospital-owned family practices by 2013. Let’s Go! posters and resources will be found throughout the offices and providers will consistently track height and weight of their pediatric patients. Healthy Habits Surveys given at all well-child visits with children two and older will lay the groundwork for respectful conversations around health behaviors that can help children and families lead a healthier lifestyle and achieve or maintain a healthy weight.

The hospital is fortunate to have an experienced Let’s Go! champion in its organization; New Horizons Health Care in Madison has been a registered Let’s Go! healthcare site since 2008 and received recognition by the Let’s Go! home office in Portland for its efforts in 2011. Liz Bailey-Scott, a physician assistant at the Madison practice notes, “The Healthy Habits Survey is an excellent tool to connect with patients and make a difference in the lives of our local families. It’s a great ice breaker for what can be a sensitive subject.”

The New Horizons Health Care practice in Unity recently implemented the program and other offices will adopt the program over the coming months. If you would like to learn more about Let’s Go! visit www.letsgo.org or contact Ellen Wells, Inland Hospital’s Community Wellness Coordinator at 861-3292 or ewells@emh.org.
*Data from OneMaine Health Collaborative’ s 2010 Community Health Needs Assessment.