PowerUP gains national recognition

Lakeview logoChildren and adults have seen the signs, the backpacks and Chomp, the giant carrot, promoting PowerUp, Lakeview’s community-wide initiative to make better eating and physical activity easy and fun for kids and the St. Croix Valley.

But behind all the fun, games and the giant carrot is a serious mission to help kids grow healthy. PowerUp’s long-term goal of PowerUp is working in partnership and on multiple levels to change the local food and activity environment and create programs to change eating and activity habits and prevent childhood obesity.

An article featuring the work of PowerUp was published in the most recent issue of Diabetes Spectrum, a peer-reviewed, national, professional health journal. Research shows eating and activity habits in kids are linked to childhood obesity and also Type 2 diabetes, the kind of diabetes that “used to” only be found in adults.

The article, written by Lakeview PowerUP Director Marna Canterbury, MS, RD, and PowerUp Committee Chairwoman Sue Hedlund, PHN, summarizes the reasons why PowerUp is important for diabetes prevention and the strategy behind the initiative.

PowerUp is gaining national recognition as a comprehensive strategy focusing on working in and with the community to create change for kids. The community has been involved from the very beginning planning stages and continues to be the key to PowerUp inspiring change. For example:

  •  The Lakeview Foundation’s Health and Wellness Advisory Committee guides the effort and includes representatives from local public health departments, health care providers and the health plan (HealthPartners, Inc.), as well as strong community representation sectors including businesses, non-profits, civic leaders and local parents.
  • In 2013, PowerUp has public, private and charter schools in Stillwater and in Somerset, Wis., participatin in the PowerUp School Challenge, inspiring more than 5,500 students to eat more fruits and vegetables.

Early results show the initiative is inspiring community-level change.

The article features the “PowerUp Countdown” a unique, simple and fun way to promote the key messages to improve food and beverage choices and increase physical activity. The message is also consistent with, and complementary to, the nationally disseminated 5-2-1-0 message, 12,13 which encompasses:

  •  5 fruits and vegetables;
  • 2 hours of screen time or less;
  • 1 hour of physical activity, and
  • 0 sugary drinks

Effective communications is necessary to fight the prevalent marketing messages directed at children focusing on sugar-sweetened, low nutrient foods and beverages. Rarely will an ad for broccoli be as effective as a cartoon character endorsing a sweet treat or an advertisement illustrating the “power” of an energy drink.

PowerUp is a long-term commitment to create change over 10 years in partnership with schools, businesses, health care, civic groups, families, kids and the community. For information, recipes, tips or to get involved visit powerup4kids.org. PowerUp is supported by a designated fund of the Lakeview Foundation in partnership with HealthPartners.