Despite Continued Increases in Obesity Rates, Children ages 2-5 Improve Obesity after participation in a Head Start Center project in MS and LA

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Despite rates of obesity continuing to increase among some low-income children ages 2-5, new results from the first of its kind study show that obesity measures significantly improved among children ages 2-5 who participate in Head Start Center-based nutrition and healthy living programming, as compared to children not in the program. Funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, this program “shows much promise to reduce obesity rates of young children throughout our nation, using Head Start Centers as primary settings for this type of intervention,” says Dr. Danielle Hollar the study lead investigator.

Thriving Communities, Thriving Children nutrition education interventions taking place at a Head Start Center in Moss Point, Mississippi.

We are very excited to see that children participating in the study interventions show clinically significant improvements in these key obesity measures, as compared to children who are not in the intervention.

Despite rates of obesity continuing to increase among some low-income children ages 2-5, research presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention/Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health 2015 Scientific Sessions shows children in MS and LA are improving. In a first of its kind, in a controlled study design, children participating in a Head Start Center nutrition and healthy living program, funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, experienced significantly greater improvements in Body Mass Index (BMI) percentile and waist circumference than children not in the program.

All children in the study are part of Thriving Communities, Thriving Children (TC2), funded by a $1.2 million grant to The Mississippi Food Network from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

“We are very excited to see that children participating in the study interventions show clinically significant improvements in these key obesity measures, as compared to children who are not in the intervention. These significant health improvements show much promise to reduce obesity rates of young children throughout our nation, using Head Start Centers as primary settings for this type of intervention,” said Dr. Danielle Hollar, Study Principal Investigator and President of Healthy Networks Design and Research, a nonprofit organization leading the study.

Thriving Communities, Thriving Children commenced in 2013 and expands previous school-based obesity prevention programming (also funded by the Kellogg Foundation) in Mississippi and Louisiana by commencing interventions addressing foods served by Head Start Centers, food-based education, daily physical activity, and health education using the evidence-based OrganWise Guys curriculum in Head Start Centers in underserved communities in MS and LA.

The research abstract can be accessed by clicking here.

About the Mississippi Food Network
The Mississippi Food Network (MFN) began in 1983 as food bank warehouse facility to accumulate, store and distribute food and household items for charities that would make the final distribution to needy people in the community. Today, 19.3 million pounds of food are distributed, serving more than 135,000 people each month.

MFN’s mission is to relieve poverty-related hunger in our service area by distributing donated and purchased food and grocery products through a network of member churches and nonprofit organizations. They also provide nutrition education to needy clients and emphasize advocacy and related needs. For more information, visit http://www.msfoodnet.org.

About the W.K. Kellogg Foundation
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer, Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life.

The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Michigan, and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special emphasis is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. WKKF priority places in the U.S. are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans; and internationally, are in Mexico and Haiti. To learn more, visit http://www.wkkf.org or follow WKKF on Twitter at @wk_kellogg_fdn.

About Healthy Networks Design & Research
Healthy Networks Design & Research is a nonprofit organization that assists organizations with health-related project development, funding acquisition, policy (re)design, implementation, evaluation, and research functions to improve the health of communities they serve. Activities led by HNDR have been funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Walmart Foundation, the National Recreation and Parks Association, the U.S. Soccer Federation, The World Bank, the Tennessee Blue Foundation (Blue Cross/Blue Shield), the Aetna Foundation, the Florida Department of Agriculture, the among others. More information is available at http://www.HealthyNetworksDesignandResearch.org.

For more information about the Kellogg Foundation-funded TC2 Project, contact:
Principal Investigator Dr. Danielle Hollar (DanielleHollar(at)gmail(dot)com) or
Project Director Dr. Michelle Lombardo (michelle(at)organwiseguys(dot)com)

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Dr. Danielle Hollar

Dr. Michelle Lombardo