Team Snapshot: Delaware Division of Public Health, Dover, DE
February 19, 2013
Shared By: Julie Eisen
US Region: South Atlantic
HRSA Region: Region 3
Delaware Division of Public Health
Healthy Weight Collaborative - Phase 2
By Julie Eisen
Meet the Team
Based out of the Delaware Division of Public Health (DDPH), the Delaware team in the Healthy Weight Collaborative is targeting children and adults at four different sites. They include an elementary school, a high school-based wellness center, a medical clinic and a final setting that no other team in the Healthy Weight Collaborative is tackling – a college campus.
Delaware State University (DSU) is a historically black university serving approximately 4,000 students at its main campus in Dover. Two years ago the university began its own wellness program after identifying several health concerns among students, including overweight and obesity.
“Joining the Healthy Weight Collaborative made sense,” says Marianne Carter, MS, RD, team member and director of the Delaware Center for Health Promotion (DCHP) at DSU. “It was just like-minded people wanting to be involved. It was perfect timing.”
According to Carter, data collected at campus health screenings to date indicate that about 50 percent of the current student population is either overweight or obese.
After joining the Healthy Weight Collaborative, Carter trained DCHP’s “student wellness ambassadors” to conduct body mass index (BMI) screenings of their peers at high-traffic spots around campus and offer healthy weight plans to those with BMIs of 30 or higher, which marks the obese range. Additionally, students with BMIs of 30 or higher were referred to DCHP from the Student Health Center, the Sports Medicine Department and the Movement Science faculty that teach a "Lifetime Fitness and Wellness” class. The healthy weight plans follow the Delaware team’s chosen messaging, 5-2-1-Almost None, which suggests a daily recommendation of five fruits or vegetables, two hours or less of recreational screen time (including the computer and TV), one hour of physical activity and almost no sugar-sweetened beverages. Students who complete a healthy weight plan commit to working on at least one of the suggested behavior changes for a 30- to 60-day period.
Students were developing healthy weight plans, however, Carter found that the one-on-one approach was labor-intensive and limiting. To reach more students, Carter and her DSU Wellness and Recreation Center colleagues had to go bigger and they had to appeal to their college-aged population, so they borrowed a nightlife idea called “Zumba in the Club” from a local casino and brought it to campus. On Nov. 28, 2012 DSU transformed the basketball court into a night club with professional Zumba instructors, upbeat music and smoke machines. The event also offered free BMI screenings, healthy weight plans and an iPad raffle. The cost of a raffle ticket? A BMI screening.
“The students were really interested and engaged,” says Judy Chaconas, leader of the Delaware team and director of the Office of Health Planning and Resources Management at the Delaware Division of Public Health. “Everybody was happy. They were smiling and there was a lot of energy in the room.”
Trained DSU students, public health representatives from the state, and Nemours Health and Prevention Services staff formed an assembly line in the BMI station, conducting one-on-one counseling for students with BMIs of 30 or higher who chose to develop a healthy weight plan.
“Many of the students had no clue what their BMI was,” says Carter. “We gave them suggestions to meet their healthy weight goals that made sense for them, like walking to class instead of taking the shuttle bus.”
Of the approximately 150 attendees, 81 students received BMI screenings and 45 students completed healthy weight plans. In total, 199 DSU students have participated in the Healthy Weight Collaborative and 86 of those students have developed healthy weight plans.