Children’s Nutrition and Fitness Education Program Scores

WakeMed Health & Hospitals Children’s Diabetes ENERGIZE! program has won the coveted NOVA Award from the American Hospital Association (AHA).

The AHA NOVA Award is given annually to between four and six collaborative, hospital-led programs that improve community health by extending help to low-income, uninsured or under-served children and adults, the chronically ill, and ethnic minorities.

WakeMed’s program, which teaches at-risk children ages six to 18 how to build lifelong, healthy attitudes about food and fitness, has proven to be a great success. Due to the positive results from the Wake County program, the North Carolina Legislature has approved funding to implement the program in five additional counties across the state.

“We believe ENERGIZE! could be a national model to help curb the emerging epidemic of type 2 diabetes,” commented Bill Lagarde, MD, WakeMed pediatric endocrinologist and ENERGIZE! medical director. “ENERGIZE! reaches kids before elevated blood glucose and excess weight cause lasting health effects, arming them with the information they need to prevent or delay the onset of diabetes.”

Children are eligible for ENERGIZE! if they have elevated blood glucose levels or metabolic syndrome, indicating high risk of developing type 2 diabetes. They participate in a 12-week, three-night-a-week, community-based intensive education and lifestyle change program with lessons in nutrition, physical fitness, and behavior change.

To date, more than 500 children have completed the free program. By the time of their six-month follow-up visit, 50 percent of the participants had decreased their BMIs by an average of seven percent. Among participants whose fasting blood glucose was initially greater than 100, 50 percent had reduced their fasting blood glucose levels to normal six months after completing ENERGIZE!

Six months after completing the program, program graduates exercised more and spent less time watching TV, playing video games, and using the computer. They also drank more water and less soda and sweetened beverages than they had before enrolling in the course.

The entire family engages in the program when children participate in ENERGIZE! Parents attend sessions to learn about nutrition, exercise, being a role model, and supporting their child to help them live a healthier lifestyle. This family involvement is a critical element in the program’s success.

In addition to ENERGIZE!, this year’s AHA NOVA Award winners are Every Child Succeeds, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH; Partnership for Community Health, California Pacific Medical Center, San Francisco, CA; Nutrition Center of Maine, Saint Mary’s Health System, Lewiston, ME; and Memorial Hermann Health Centers for Schools, Memorial Hermann, Houston, TX.

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