Guest Blogger: Health at Every Size

Dr Bacon

Today we welcome a guest post from Rosco of Oregon State University. Rosco attended a lecture by Dr. Linda Bacon about obesity myths and how we create alternative options that encourage better health and well-being for people of all sizes. Here are Rosco’s reflections on the lecture:

Rosco and Dr. Bacon

Rosco and Dr. Bacon

My name is Rosco and I work at Healthy Campus Initiatives at Oregon State University (OSU). We strive to engage our campus community in conversations over the importance of healthy eating, being active, stress management and tobacco cessation. Commonly, there are events, activities and lectures around campus that highlight one or more of these general wellness areas, and on May 22nd, Dr. Linda Bacon a professor, researcher, and the author of the book Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About your Weight gave a lecture at OSU entitled “The Next Public Health Challenge: Losing the Anti-Obesity Paradigm.” This presentation focused on issues around the false relation of body size and disease.

Dr. Bacon spoke of the current obesity trends and how obesity is currently at a plateau. Dr. Bacon presented the ongoing initiative of Health at Every Size (HAES) that focuses on being accepting of size, finding pleasurable physical activities, and adapting nourishing eating habits through eating mindfully. Diets only show to have positive impacts on health in the short term, but also increase inflammation and encourage weight cycling. People implementing HAES showed to have greater success because of the healthy behaviors suggested and they were also more likely to stick with it in the long term. The issue is that society today relates weight to health; encouraging people to strive for an impossible ideal of a magical body fat percentage that may actually be unrealistic or unobtainable. These paradigms create a stigma on being overweight or obese and can be more damaging for the developing youth by encouraging the consideration of harmful behaviors (e.g., “yo-yo” dieting). People implementing HAES have reported greater success because of the healthy behaviors suggested and they were also more likely to stick with it in the long term.

My background consists mainly of the physiology of fitness and nutrition so I was excited to learn about the psychological and social aspects of body composition. The ideas and findings presented during this lecture were very informative. The HAES program has shown to be beneficial for many and I highly encourage everyone to review the program for the improvement of overall health.

Local Food for Local Schools: How One School District is Delivering Healthy Food to Students

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To flourish in the classroom, kids need to maintain a healthy diet. That’s a fact. Considering 46% of Oregon children are receiving free or reduced meals at school, it’s vital that we’re giving these students food that is nutritional so they can function at their absolute best.

To help improve students’ overall nutrition, reduce childhood hunger, and prevent obesity among children, many schools are adopting Farm to School programs.  At its core, Farm to School is about establishing relationships between local farms and K-12 school aged children.  By giving children access to healthy food, while simultaneously benefiting communities and local farmers, Farm to School is a win-win for all.

Benefits of Farm to SchoolThe Bethel School district in Eugene, Oregon has dedicated itself to ensuring that its students be given access to fresh fruits and vegetables that are grown locally. Best of all, they have access to them year round.

Bethel’s Farm to School efforts started small. In 2008, Nutrition Services Director, Jennie Kolpak, RD, bought local apples for the school lunch program. That same year, the District (which serves 5,700 students annually) was awarded a grant to fund an educational component of Farm to School. By 2009, Bethel had started a 10-week educational component for second and third graders in two elementary schools. The program was innovative, and it made a direct impact on the health of those students.

30% of Bethel’s produce is procured locally by farm producers and distributors.  Students enjoy local apples, berries, carrots, corn, green beans, lettuce, potatoes, milk and eggs, and seven of Bethel’s eleven schools have a school garden. Bethel’s Willamette High School even has a centralized bakery that uses locally grown and milled flour in their baked goods.

So, what’s next for Bethel School District?  They hope to expand their Farm to School education efforts to all schools in the District, and are considering a “Boat to School” program that would allow them to utilize locally caught seafood in their school lunch program.

We’re so thankful for innovative thinkers like the great people working for Bethel. Farm to School is an important way to keep our kids eating well. We’d love to know, what local efforts have you heard of that are driving behavior change in your community?

Healthy Food Rebates: An Idea to Encourage Healthy Shopping

Unfortunately, eating healthfully and eating cheap don’t always go hand-in-hand. But nutrition is a vital piece of living a healthy life, and a new idea has started to surface to promote healthier shopping; cash back on healthy food.

wegmans-produce-section--large-msg-116085283585This week, NPR published an article titled, Cash Back on Broccoli: Health Insurers Nudge Shoppers To Be Well. The article is about an innovative partnership between a health plan and a grocer. In this case, Wal-Mart (grocer) teamed with HumanaVitality (health plan) to offer rebates on foods that were labeled “Great for You.” For this partnership, the “Great for You” rebate was 5%, and it applied only to HumanaVitality members that shopped at Wal-Mart.

The idea has been successful in other countries (South Africa has shown that this idea supports healthier shopping habits), but the HumanaVitality/Wal-Mart partnership is the first of its kind in the US. The idea sounds great, but the verdict is still out on whether or not it’s making an impact on shopping habits.

So we wondered, would a 5% kickback be enough to change the way you shopped? And, besides grocers, who could health plans team up with to provide incentives for healthier living? We’d love for you to weigh in.