Look out across any school playground in your community and notice a harsh reality: about one out of every three children are overweight or obese.
Research shows that the percentage of U.S. children who are overweight or obese has tripled since the 1980’s. As our nation’s children increase in weight, they face serious health problems like Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and asthma which can follow them into adulthood.
The prevalence of overweight and obesity is higher among rural children than urban children. According to data from the National Survey of Children’s Health, children living in rural areas are 25% more likely than children living in metropolitan areas to be overweight or obese. Rural children are challenged with obstacles to healthy eating and physical activity that are not encountered by children who live in metropolitan areas.
The Generating Rural Options for Weight-Healthy Kids and Communities project, led by researchers at Oregon State University, is an innovative research study targeting obesity prevention in rural children. Using a community-based participatory approach, GROW HKC engages stakeholders and residents from rural areas to identify features or resources in their community that they perceive to be supports or barriers to healthy living. The Carson Valley research portion is being coordinated by Steve Lewis, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension and Cheryl Bricker, Partnership of Community Resources.
The process is simple. A team of Carson Valley residents use state-of-the-art GPS technology to photograph and map their community by foot, bicycle, or car. After a focus group session to select the pictures that best represent healthy eating and active living supports and barriers, a community conversation is held. This Carson Valley Conversation is scheduled 6-8 p.m. June 18 at the CVIC Hall. It includes a free dinner.
The study will establish an evidenced-based model for how rural residents can make positive changes to their community that promotes healthy eating and physical activity for everyone. After all, growing healthy kids mean growing healthy communities.
For more information about the GROW Healthy Kids and Communities project or details about the Community Conversation, please contact Steve Lewis, Extension Educator, 782-9960, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cooperative Extension educator