246661 We Can!®: Leveraging social media to help children, families and communities maintain a healthy weight

Monday, October 31, 2011

Melissa McGowan, MHS, CHES , National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD
We Can!®(Ways to Enhance Children's Activity & Nutrition) is a national program developed by the National Institutes of Health to provide parents, caregivers, youth and entire communities the science-based programs and materials they need to help children ages 8-13 maintain a healthy weight. We Can! focuses on three critical behaviors: improved food choices, increased physical activity and reduced screen time. Since its launch in 2005, We Can! has become a national movement of communities working to help families maintain a healthy weight. To date, more than 1,400 community organizations, from park and recreation departments to schools to hospitals and health systems have signed on to use We Can! programming and materials. More than 40 partners have worked with the program as well.

Social marketing techniques and health behavior/communication theories such as Diffusion of Innovations are critical to We Can!. We Can!'s activities with communities and partners are complimented by a health communications plan that includes the use of emerging social media such as Facebook and YouTube, in addition to traditional media. This session will discuss how program materials and messages are developed and disseminated, taking into account the specific needs of parents/caregivers, youth, and community groups. This session will focus on the reach of We Can! messages and materials by leveraging traditional and social media, including a YouTube video contest and a series of “Parents Have the Power” public service announcements. The session will highlight how these activities have strengthened and expanded the reach of a national prevention program.

Learning Areas:
Communication and informatics
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
1. Explain how social marketing principles can be used to develop a health communications plan for an obesity prevention program 2. Describe how two types of social media can be leveraged to encourage families and communities to maintain a healthy weight

Keywords: Social Marketing, Obesity

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I oversee health promotion and disease prevention programs.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.