University of Hawaii System newsletter

New Programs Focus on Childhood Obesity Problem

Posted on | April 29, 2011 | 1 Comment

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From the left, CTAHR's grant announcement and JABSOM's program announcement.

Mānoa’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources develops children obesity prevention program and the School of Medicine launches Hawaiʻi 5-2-1-0 Let’s Go! program.

College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources

Mānoa’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources has been awarded a $24.8 million grant to develop food, nutrition and physical activity intervention, training, monitoring and evaluation systems, together with local communities, in order, to guide sustainable children’s obesity prevention program and policy development in the Pacific region. The five-year competitive grant, the only one of its kind nationwide, was awarded by the USDA National Institute for Food and Agriculture.

The $24.8 million grant funds the Children’s Healthy Living Program for Remote Underserved Minority Populations in the Pacific. Its goal is to build social/cultural, political/economic, and physical/built environments that promote active play and intake of healthy food to prevent childhood obesity in the Pacific region. CHIL is a partnership among remote Pacific States and other jurisdictions of the U.S., and includes Hawaiʻi, Alaska, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, Guam, the Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

“Native communities in the Pacific Region are seriously underrepresented in obesity research, despite a high prevalence of obesity and related behavioral and environmental risk factors,” says Professor Rachel Novotny, CHIL principal investigator. “According to the few available data for the region, prevalence of overweight and obesity has been estimated at 60–90 percent of the adult population and 15–45 percent of 2-to 8-year-olds, higher than levels seen in the contiguous U.S.”

Read the news release.

School of Medicine

Mānoa’s John A. Burns School of Medicine, the Department of Pediatrics and the Hawaiʻi Initiative for Childhood Obesity Research and Education are launched the Hawaiʻi 5-2-1-0 Let’s Go Initiative, which aims to prevent childhood obesity through a coordinated, health education campaign with a healthy lifestyle message. This new initiative is modeled after successful programs in other states. It will provide practical tools and materials for Hawaiʻi’s doctors and families to address this issue.

“A 2003 population-based study of children entering kindergarten in Hawaiʻi found that 28.5 percent were either overweight or obese. The problem was worse in rural communities where 30–40 percent of Hawaiʻi’s kindergarteners were already overweight and obese,” says Professor Kenneth Nakamura, chair of the Department of Pediatrics. “Obesity prevention clearly needs to be a priority for our community,”

The name Hawaiʻi 5-2-1-0 sums up four key healthy lifestyle recommendations.
• 5 or more fruits or vegetables a day
• 2 hours or less of screen time a day
• 1 hour or more of physical activity per day
• 0 sugary drinks

The Hawaiʻi 5-2-1-0 leaders understand the complex health disparities related to childhood obesity and will focus initial efforts on high-risk families and underserved communities in Hawaiʻi as well as the physicians and organizations who serve them. Clinical tools, continuing medical education seminars and educational materials are being developed to assist providers in engaging families in discussions about healthy lifestyles. The materials will reflect the culture and interests of Hawaiʻi’s families and will be translated into several different languages spoken in Hawaiʻi.

Read the news release.