Posts Tagged ‘Empower program’

Obesity Drops Among Preschoolers

March 5th, 2014

The latest CDC obesity data published in this week’s Journal of the American Medical Association found a significant decline in obesity among kids aged 2 to 5. Obesity prevalence for this age group declined by 43% in the last 8 years (from 14% in 2004 to 8% in 2012.  While the precise reasons for the decline in obesity aren’t clear, many child care centers have started to improve their nutrition and physical activity standards over the past few years (like our (EMPOWER Program).  In addition, CDCs data shows a decrease in consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages among kids in recent years. Another possible factor might be the improvement in breastfeeding rates- which helps stave off obesity. 

 

Empowering the El Congreso Internacional de Promoción de la Salud

November 19th, 2013

I was fortunate to attend the 2nd annual “ECongreso Internacional de Promoción de la Salud (CIPS)” last week in Hermosillo.  There were more than 400 public health attendees from 17 countries at the conference.  I presented our pre-school Empower program….  which empowers kids to make good choices about nutrition, physical activity, and tobacco using age-appropriate vehicles including costumed characters and a coloring book.  

My presentation focused on 10 Sample Policies including links to implementation resources.  I brought a 1-foot stack of Spanish Empower brochures which were completely gone after the first day.  Hopefully Empower will become a pre-school best-practice all the way from the Nogales border to Tierra del Fuego!

Sitting is the new smoking

October 23rd, 2013

Public health embarked on a smoking revolution over the last few decades, kicking it into high gear to provide programs and policies to help Arizonans change their smoking habits. While by no means has the tobacco battle been won, America is currently undergoing another revolution—a walking revolution. Physical activity is not new territory in public health. Public health professionals have been encouraging adults to achieve at least 150 minutes of moderate or vigorous physical activity per week.  Now, though, the public health world is taking a step back and promoting the simplest of physical activities: walking or biking. A recent study from Kansas State University looked at the association between sitting time and chronic diseases. The study found that people who sat for more than four hours per day were significantly more likely to report having a chronic disease such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. 

The Surgeon General has started the “Everybody Walk” campaign, releasing a document entitled “A Walking Revolution: The moving making Americans Happier and Healthier,” developing a free App that tracks all aspects of your walk, and hinting at writing a call to action on walking. This call-to-action is being compared to the famous 1964 Surgeon General’s Report on the dangers of smoking, translating that message into the dangers of sitting. 

Here at ADHS we take an innovative approach to promote more walking and less sedentary behavior. Our focus is to create environments where the healthy choice, walking, is the easy choice. Our Empower program establishes policies in child care centers that decrease sedentary time and screen time, and increases physical activity of youngsters. The Arizona Nutrition Network has been infusing traditional nutrition education with physical activity. Community design initiatives have worked to establish environments where walking or riding a bike are the predominant means of transportation in a community, rather than driving a car. With walking being so simple, the question remains: how will you walk or bike today?

 

Childhood Obesity: Turning the Tide?

August 15th, 2013

We finally got some better news from the childhood obesity public health front this week.  Tuesday’s CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report found that childhood obesity rates are stabilizing or decreasing slightly across the country.  In fact, 19 states had a significant downward trend in obesity prevalence among low-income preschoolers.  There was no change in Arizona- but that’s better than going up.  The study looked at kids between 2 and 4 years old that participate in WIC, Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment program, and the Maternal and Child Health programs between 2008–2011 and found a downward trend in obesity- for the first time that I can remember in my career. 

Where do we go from here?  Basically, we need to continue to press ahead and implement evidence-based best practices – as turning the tide on childhood obesity will be a long term effort.  Here are a few AZ specific examples: 

  • We’ll continue to work with many county health departments on the implementation of the Health in Arizona Policy Initiative.  This initiative focuses on school health, worksite wellness, healthy community design, procurement of healthy foods (like having healthy alternatives in vending machines), preventive clinical care, and inclusion of children with special health care needs.
  • The CDC recently awarded us a new public health prevention grant.  Like the Health in Arizona Policy Initiative, the goal is to make healthy living easier by supporting healthy environments in workplaces, schools, early childhood education/child care, and in the community.  Arizona was one of 32 states to be awarded enhanced funding; in total, ADHS will receive $2M per year for five years.   Activities are expected to begin rolling out by October. 
  • State and local partners can continue to help communities to conduct needs assessments, Health Impact Assessments, action plans, and initiatives aimed at increasing healthy eating and active living by using tools like the Arizona Health in Policy and Practice Resources and the Urban Land Institute’s Community Plan, both of which help local officials to focus on a holistic approach to land use planning, zoning, transportation, economic development, real estate development and finance. 
  • We’ll continue to support School Health Advisory Councils which help schools to identify and incorporate best practices for obesity prevention including standards that promote healthy eating and physical activity, like focusing on serving fruits and vegetables, limiting sugary beverages, and providing more opportunities for physical activity, and reducing screen time- like our nationally-recognized Empower program does. 
  • Our public health system will continue to assist local businesses, communities, and local elected by educating them about the importance of and tools to provide opportunities for physical activity, healthy food availability, and improving access to safe, free drinking water in public places.  Maryvale on the Move is a good example of this kind of approach. 
  • We can also continue to help community groups improve access to local play spaces & increase opportunities for physical activity by helping decision-makers to provide easier access to safe recreational facilities by passing laws like ARS 33-1551   which addresses liability concerns of schools when opening outdoor facilities to the public outside of the school day- making it easier for schools to open playgrounds to the public so children have more places to play and be physically active.

Limit the Sun, Not the Fun- Be SunWise!

July 31st, 2013

A recent report by the American Cancer Society, suggests what many Arizonans may have suspected, that skin cancer is on the rise. An estimated 82,770 Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer in 2013. In Arizona, one in five of us is likely to develop some form of skin cancer.  The most common cause is overexposure to UV Rays, those invisible rays that come from the sun and tanning lamps and cause sunburns and suntans.  

Protecting skin from sunburn and suntan is key, especially among the under-18 crowd who gets more exposure than adults. The ADHS SunWise Program has been around 10 years, educating kids at over 1100 elementary and middle schools who are required to teach sun safety.   They’re not alone.  Our Offices of Childcare Licensure and Empower Program support the SunWise message.  In fact, all Arizona’s licensed childcare facilities now implement sun safety policies and provide outdoor shaded play area for children under their care.  To learn more about SunWise and Tips to keep yourself safe and prevent skin cancer, visit our SunWise website.

Chalk Up Another Empower Award

February 21st, 2013

This week the Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs gave us the National Best Practice Award for our Empower Program.  As a refresher for those of you that aren’t familiar with Empower…  it’s a program we started in 2009 that focuses on increasing healthy eating and active living in our licensed child care facilities… reaching over 200,000 children throughout Arizona. It’s a voluntary program in which childcare licensees receive a discount on their 3-year licensing fee to become Empower centers by pledging to implement the 10 standards to Empower children to live healthier lives.  The Empower Program was submitted by Adrienne Udarbe to AMCHP’s Innovation Station, a searchable database of emerging, promising and best practices in maternal and child health.  Congrats to our Child Care Licensing and Maternal & Child Health programs for changing the landscape in AZ and across the country.

By the way…  our Baby Steps to Breastfeeding is also recognized as an emerging practice by the same group.  That one was won by our Nutrition and Physical Activity shop.  It’s an on-line class for hospitals to use as a refresher class, train newly hired staff, or become a Baby Steps designated hospital.

 

New “Empower” Standards Here

November 27th, 2012

It is hard to believe we’re in the 3rd year of our successful Empower Program. As a refresher for those of you that aren’t familiar with Empower, it’s a program that focuses on increasing healthy eating and active living, along with helping to provide smoke-free environments, in licensed child care facilities… reaching over 200,000 children throughout Arizona.  Empower is a voluntary program in which childcare licensees receive a discount on their 3-year licensing fee to become Empower centers and homes when they pledge to implement the 10 standards to Empower children to live healthier lives. The program has received national recognition from the White House and many other state and national partners. 

We’re excited to be rolling out updated 10 Empower standards beginning on 1/1/13.  We updated the standards to better impact the most significant health issues impacting Arizona’s children and families. New standards include those that will improve oral health, breastfeeding-friendly practices, training of childcare providers, and sun safety practices.  We’re committed to ensuring the successful implementation of the new standards, and we’ll be working with childcare providers throughout 2013 to learn how to apply the new standards. Licensed providers can look forward to receiving a new Empower Pack with new tools and resources to support the implementation of the new standards beginning mid-January, along with training and ongoing technical assistance.  

Thank you to all of the Licensing and Prevention Services staff (especially Adrienne Udarbe who helped lead the team) that worked so hard to update the standards…  thank you to the Stakeholders that have provided input along the way…  and thanks to our amazing “Superheroes for Health” out there in the childcares that support Arizona’s children every day!

 

First Lady Recognizes Empower

May 23rd, 2012

The First Lady’s Let’s Move! Child Care initiative recognized our Empower program for exceptional work to promote young children’s health and prevent childhood obesity in the early care and education setting last week.  We were selected for recognition for carrying out exceptional work to promote and implement the goals of Let’s Move! Child Care, including using creative strategies, engaging families in obesity prevention efforts, and overcoming challenges to get children moving and encourage healthy eating in the early care and education setting. We were one of three honorees selected for recognition in the State Honoree category.  

In a signed letter from the First Lady, Mrs. Obama thanked ADHS “for the work done each day to help our Nation’s children grow up healthier and able to pursue their dreams.”  For more information about the Empower program visit: http://www.azdhs.gov/empowerpack/

 

Empower Program Gets National Recognition

April 6th, 2012

Our Physical Activity and Nutrition and Child Care Licensing programs were selected for a national award from  Let’s Move!- Child Care for our outstanding work to promote young children’s health and prevent childhood obesity through the Empower program and our training videos.  Our work will be showcased at the May 9 Let’s Move! Child Care Recognition Luncheon in DC.  The award was announced late this afternoon- so I don’t have any more details- but I’ll share more when it comes in.

Empower Program Stepping it Up- Nationally

June 24th, 2011

This is a story about making great-tasting sugar free lemonade from lemons.  About a year and a half ago the legislature passed a bill that eliminated our general funds for licensing (nursing homes, assisted living, hospitals, behavioral health, child care etc.).  In exchange, the Bill included a provision that gave us “exempt” rulemaking authority to collect fees to run our licensing and assurance activities.

We ran diagnostics and estimated what the fees would need to be to satisfy our statutory responsibilities for each of our programs and ran a rule package to set the new fees.  During the comment period our licensed childcare facilities expressed deep concerns about the fees.  One of the root problems was that childcare facilities were on a 3-year licensing cycle and their fees had been nearly completely subsidized by taxpayers (the general fund).  Some licensees were holding $150 licenses that were good for 3 years and that were paid as late as December of ’09.  As a result, we couldn’t convert to a 1-year cycle which would have cut their out of pocket expenses by 2/3.

As an alternative- we used federal funds through our Title V Maternal & Child Health funds to provide an incentive for facilities to improve physical activity and nutrition during the day.  Childcare facilities that elect to participate in our Empower program essentially receive a 50% discount on their fees in exchange for implementing simple and cheap operational changes that improve nutrition and physical activity at childcare facilities.  Well over 99% of facilities have elected to do the Empower program in exchange for the discount.  Only 2 facilities have elected to pay the full fee in the year and a half the program has been operational.  Feedback from facilities and families (especially moms) has been positive.

Now there’s a nationwide buzz about our creative solution to leverage Title V Maternal & Child Health funding to improve physical activity and nutrition for pre-schoolers.  Jeanette Shea has been invited to present the Empower program at the national Childhood Obesity Conference next week.  The planning committee included folks who saw the presentation on Empower at the National Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs last February, and they wanted to make sure folks from all over the country had a chance to see the exciting things happening in Arizona.

But wait- there’s more.  The Institute of Medicine report on Early Childhood Obesity Prevention Policies came out yesterday- and Arizona was recognized as one of the states over the last two years who have improved nutrition and physical activity in preschools.  Those changes were a direct result of our work with Empower.  On the local front, the Arizona Academy of Pediatrics presented their coveted Community Partnership Award to Karen Sell this month to recognize the success of the Empower program.

The recognition is nice, but the best part of all is the response from the child care community and parents.  They’ve embraced Empower and that has changed the way child care is delivered throughout the state.  Now, we’ve started a national dialog on physical activity and nutrition in preschool.  Necessity really is the mother of invention!