Online Program

Adolescent obesity: Identifying readiness and opportunities for change in a rural community

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Komal Shah, BA, UMass Medical School, Worcester, MA
Carrie Wu, BA, UMass Medical School, Worcester, MA
Nithya Setty-Shah, BS, MS, UMass Medical School, Worcester, MA
Cassandra Carlson, BA, RN, UMass Medical School, Worcester, MA
Peter Vecchiarelli, MA, MS, LADC, RN, UMass Medical School, Worcester, MA
Anna Zimmerman, BA, UMass Medical School, Worcester, MA
Konstantinos Deligiannidis, MD, MPH, UMass Medical School, Worcester, MA
Background: Overweight and obesity are known to have significant morbidity, mortality, and financial consequences. The impact on rural communities and among adolescents remains disproportionate and there is a significant need for understanding community readiness. The IOM's recent report urging integration of primary care and public health to link clinical and community resources may help. Methods: We used mixed-methods to identify and determine social readiness to change and available resources in a rural community with a high rate of overweight and obese adolescents (43.8%). We developed and fielded a local health center-based survey, conducted key-informant interviews, and held focus groups in the local high school. Results: The majority of farmers, teachers, students, physicians, and other community leaders and members interviewed expressed interest in promoting healthy eating and exercise. 50% of respondents believe that they or a member of their family needs to change eating habits, and 81% of respondents reported having tried changing eating habits. However, there is no forum to pursue these goals in a unified manner, and lack of financial resources has limited the school-based health programs and other community initiatives. Conclusions: New partnerships between community health leaders, public schools, and other stakeholders are important for educating and mobilizing community members to participate in programs such as community gardening, walks, and cooking classes. Rural communities should be able to rely on clinicians and community based organizations to help empower adolescents to take charge of their own health through student-driven activities such as school health fairs and intramural sports.

Learning Areas:

Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Other professions or practice related to public health
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
Discuss challenges faced by providers, educators, and community members in modifying behavior contributing to adolescent obesity in a rural setting. Identify important stakeholders and potential resources for addressing adolescent obesity across community sectors, including medicine, public health, and public education. Explain the importance of including youth and their families as active participants, facilitators and learners in addressing the problem of adolescent obesity.

Keyword(s): Obesity, Community-Based Partnership

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a medical student at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and I participated in a population health clerkship along with other medical and nursing students in which we explored the opportunities for collaboration between clinical medicine and community health, particularly in the area of adolescent obesity.
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.