Nearly one in three American children are overweight or obese. But after decades of rising rates, we may be turning a corner on the health crisis. Experts across fields gathered at Washington Post Live’s 2013 Childhood Obesity Summit to discuss strategies resulting in healthier children.
Lisa Harrison, Health director, Granville-Vance District Health Department in North Carolina
One of the things that we know in public health is that health fairs and one-time opportunities to be able to affect behavioral change are not always sustainable and don’t stick with folks. What Jackie and all of the staff do at the health department if we’re asked to participate in a church or a school or an organization to do a health fair, we simply say, “Well, we’d love to be there and join you. What kinds of lasting policy changes can you make to make sure that we make a difference?”
A suggestion is if you offer snacks or food in your organization, then always have water available. That one simple and small policy change can really make a difference over time.
The power of one story in Vance County is our nutrition director in one of the school systems who took seriously the suggestion to take out the fryer. We’re in the Deep South and have some good food that we like to put in a fryer.
One funny anecdote about Jackie, we were doing some quality improvement work in the health department recently and going through the process and making sure we’re reducing waste and getting clinic services moving faster. One of the tenets of quality improvement is to reduce the number of steps you take in a clinic setting. Jackie sort of piped up with her pedometer on her side and said, “Are we sure we want to reduce people’s numbers of steps in the clinic?” So you’ve got to get used to thinking like Jackie thinks in some of these moving more piece.