(PRWEB) September 03, 2011
The Missouri Foundation for Health and the Center for Obesity Prevention and Policy Research at Washington University (COPPR) have unveiled Policy Lift, a free online policy resource to help anyone create or update obesity-related policy for schools, after-school and childcare facilities, staff wellness, local governments and communities. It is the only resource of its kind that helps Missourians assess obesity-related wellness policy specific to their environment. The site can be found online at http://policylift.wustl.edu.
Policy Lift provides a central resource for policy makers and leaders to evaluate existing obesity-related and community wellness policy, make new policy and drive change where policies are limited or are in need of stronger language. The policy assessment portion of the site works by leading users through a questionnaire that assesses their organization’s or community’s existing policy, and then offers policy language suggestions and resources.
“Environment plays a critical role in obesity,” said Deborah Haire-Joshu, professor at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in Saint Louis. “Our homes, our schools, our neighborhoods, our routines, what kind of food we have access to. We can’t make healthy decisions if we don’t have healthy choices. Policy Lift is about helping any kind of organization implement real-world policies that will benefit children and families across the state. It puts years of policy research and best practices into the hands of leaders at the state and local level.”
The Policy Lift website is the culmination of over three years spent gathering, assessing and evaluating more than 600 examples of health policies from more than 2,000 sites in nearly every county in Missouri. The site also houses obesity-related policy assessment and development resources.
Policy Lift is a response to the fact that many of the obesity-related policies in place across Missouri—from schools and childcare facilities to businesses to city and county government—are out of date. Planners hope that those in positions of authority will use Policy Lift to make their own organization or community more active and combat the obesity rate in the state, which has tripled since 1986.
According to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, the total annual healthcare cost of adult obesity in Missouri is estimated to be $1.6 billion. Currently, this generation of children is at risk for a shorter average life expectancy than their parents, making childhood obesity prevention a priority.
“There is not one set of policies that fit every workplace or community,” said Amy Stringer-Hessel, program officer for the Missouri Foundation for Health. “City halls, parks and recreation departments will adopt different policies than those used by businesses and workplaces. Each place has its own needs and requires a health and obesity prevention policy relevant to its environment. We are not talking about one set of policies but many.”
Policy Lift is designed to provide the resources to shape obesity-related policy at the local level for schools, after-school and childcare facilities, staff wellness, and local governments and communities. The goal is lower obesity rates, community wellness, and to effect positive outcomes such as:
- Greater food knowledge – to ensure people understand nutrition labels and proper portion sizes and can connect that information to the food choices they make
- Improved childcare – so that schools, after-school and childcare facilities offer more nutritious food and beverage options and teach basic food awareness
- Safe Streets and Sidewalks – to transform walking and bicycling from a mode of recreation to a form of transportation
- Workplace enhancements – including healthier foods on site and opportunities for exercise
- Sustainable food initiatives – to help cities and towns rely more on local farmers
About Policy Lift
Policy Lift (http://policylift.wustl.edu) is a free online policy resource that helps local policy makers and leaders develop and strengthen obesity-related policy for schools, after-school and childcare facilities, staff wellness, and local governments and communities. Developed by the Missouri Foundation for Health and the Center for Obesity Prevention and Policy Research at Washington University in Saint Louis, Policy Lift is the only resource of its kind that helps Missourians assess and create obesity-related wellness policy designed specifically for their environment.