Branch County to receive grant to reduce childhood obesity

Mobilizing rural low-income communities to assess and improve the ecological environment to prevent childhood obesity or CPCO grant.

Michigan State University Extension of Branch County was chosen to be one of two counties in Michigan to receive the grant called Mobilizing Rural Low-Income Communities to Assess and Improve the Ecological Environment to Prevent Childhood Obesity (CPCO).

What is the CPCO grant? Two rural communities in Michigan will be selected to support an existing community coalition in providing or improving an environment that supports healthy eating and promotes physical activity of low-income children age 4. Each community will receive $5000 each year for a total of four years to support its efforts. Additionally, in years one and four, each community will have a Child Ecological Model Assessment completed to examine the environment of 4-year-old children with respect to nutrition and physical activity. A “menu” of evidence-based and evidence-informed intervention and strategies will be developed to assist communities in implementing strategies to improve the environments of 4-year-old children.

Eligible rural communities are expected to demonstrate a community readiness plan to tackle obesity prevention and must have an existing community coalition in place. These must have the ability to address the needs identified in the Child Ecological Model Assessment and implement the strategies selected from the menu of evidence-based approaches provided by the research team. In years two through four, selected communities are expected to begin implementing:

  • At least one nutrition intervention which seeks to increase dietary intakes of fruits and vegetables, increase the variety of vegetables in the diet or decrease the intakes of foods high in solid fats and added sugars
  • At least one physical activity intervention which seeks to increase the number of children that meet the guidelines for television viewing and computer use, or increase physical activity in children.

The two selected communities will be randomly placed into either a treatment group or control group. While both communities will utilize the efforts of a community coalition to develop and implement a strategic plan, only the treatment group will receive support in community coaching. All other activities, services and monetary provisions will be the same for both groups.

The project began in 2012 and will end in 2016.

So what is Branch County doing for the interventions? They are now a We Can! Community (Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity & Nutrition). This is a national movement designed to give parents, caregivers and entire communities a way to help children stay at a healthy weight. To join the movements in Branch County, be sure to follow on Facebook.

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