January/February 2008

Memorial North Park Makes Progress in Obesity Prevention


01-08-two-students Photo

Two young students show off some “Fruit Fridays” samples, part of the childhood obesity prevention program developed by a healthy community coalition that includes Memorial North Park Hospital, Hixson, Tenn., and supported by grants from the Catholic Health Initiatives Mission and Ministry Fund.

The healthy community coalition supported by Memorial North Park Hospital, Hixson, Tenn., has focused on fruit, water and walking to help prevent childhood obesity. Supported by grants from the Catholic Health Initiatives Mission and Ministry Fund, the coalition chose childhood obesity prevention as its focal point. Coalition members worked for two years to engage stakeholders, conduct research and develop a program for area schools. During the 2006–2007 school year, samples of fresh fruit were delivered to classrooms once a month on “Fruit Fridays,” allowing 2,400 students to sample nine different fruits. Each student also took home a monthly Healthy Kids newsletter and participated in a walking program at school. According to parent feedback, more than half of the students now drink more water as a result of their participation in the program. The walking program, which included five minutes of walking each day, was scheduled to last for 12 weeks; however, most schools continued the program for the entire year. For more information, contact Barbara Bowen of Memorial North Park at barbara_bowen@memorial.org.