Obesity is a concerning trend across the country, particularly as it affects
young people who have not had the opportunity to have learned the basics
of eating right. One in three American children are overweight or obese.
In Napa County, the numbers are even more staggering: According to the
last published Napa County 2013
Community Health Needs Assessment, 40% of 5th, 7th and 9th grade students (and 60% of adults) in Napa County
are overweight or obese, which puts them at an increased risk of developing
type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and other health issues.
As part of its ongoing focus on obesity prevention, St. Joseph Health is
sending nutrition education into its Northern California communities:
St. Joseph Health,
Queen of the Valley Medical Center, in Napa, brings “Healthy 4 Life” to local schools in Napa
and American Canyon. The innovative program provides physical fitness
and nutritional activities to pre-school children and children attending
grades K-12 at Napa Valley Unified School District.
“Proper diet and exercise are early interventions that prevent future
health problems while increasing mental function and academic performance,”
says Jeff Kresge, Healthy 4 Life Program Manager at Queen of the Valley
Medical Center. “But to achieve a healthy lifestyle, children need
education, and that’s what Healthy 4 Life provides. There’s
a tremendous need to address the rising trends in obesity, and this program
is helping children build habits that will keep them fit and well as they
Healthy 4 Life sends registered dietitians to schools to share important
nutrition concepts, from the importance of eating breakfast and following
My Plate guidelines, to substituting water and milk for sugar-sweetened
drinks. Certified fitness instructors engage the children in dancing,
non-competitive active games and team-building activities. Parents are
included too: Healthy 4 Life’s health educator meets with parents
of preschoolers to offer tips on topics like healthy eating on a budget,
portion control, and cooking. The result is that students in the program
spend more time in physical activity and learn to maintain a healthy relationship
Developed in collaboration with the American Academy of Pediatrics and
community partners, the Healthy 4 Life curriculum is being provided to
students at no cost to them, their families, or their schools.
Healthy 4 Life exemplifies how St. Joseph Health devotes attention and
resources to population health—committing to solving health challenges,
like obesity, that affect entire communities, not just hospitalized patients.
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical
care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.