Our story

A shared vision

We are a team of people who represent a wide variety of organizations in the public and private sector, including government agencies, health care providers, and community organizations.

Our shared vision is to work with individuals, families, communities, worksites, organizations, and local and state governments to create a culture that encourages healthy eating and physical activity for all Arkansans.

The problem

Arkansas has the third highest adult obesity rate in the nation, according to the State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America released in August 2017. Our state’s adult obesity rate is currently 35.7 percent, up from 21.9 percent in 2000 and from 17 percent in 1995.

Obesity makes having other health problems, such as heart disease, cancer, arthritis, diabetes and high blood pressure much more likely. All of these conditions can lower quality of life and shorten our lifespans. In addition, obesity and obesity-related health conditions are costly. People with obesity typically spend $1,429 more each year than people who are at a healthy weight, and the annual obesity-related health care costs in Arkansas totals $1.25 billion. These costs will only increase if we don’t work together to make positive changes in the health of our citizens.

How we plan to fix it

Reducing our state’s obesity rate will require a coordinated effort from individuals, communities, schools, public and private sector organizations, and local and state governments working together on each of the nine priority areas.

If we are all able to work together to create a state in which all of our citizens enjoy access to wholesome foods and opportunities for fun, physical activity.

Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight primarily relies on two factors: the food you eat and how often you move your body (physical activity). However, the food you eat and amount of physical activity you get each day is influenced by many factors, including where you live, the place you work, where you buy your food, what you know about nutrition, just to name a few.

We have identified nine priority areas that influence these factors and we’re working to make positive changes within each one. Much of this work includes policy changes that promote healthy eating and physical activity, but it also includes educating others about good nutrition, the importance of physical activity, and helping individuals, communities, public and private sector organizations identify ways they can lead healthier, more active lives.

How Healthy Active Arkansas works

We are a large group of people from the public and private sector who are dedicated to working within each of the nine priority areas to find ways to make eating healthy and getting physical activity easier for all Arkansans.

Each Priority Area is led by an expert in their field (a Priority Lead) and they have a team of people from a variety of partners from the public and private sector working to achieve goals on a 2, 5, and 10-year time frame. You can learn more about each of these by visiting our Progress Tracker or one of the Priority pages.

But most importantly, we need your help to make a Healthy Active Arkansas. We welcome anyone who is passionate about helping their community, workplace, or school lead healthier, active lives by becoming a Healthy Active Arkansas Ambassador. Contact us to learn more about our Ambassador program.

How the Framework was developed

In 2015, four dozen people came together at the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute for the New Frontiers in Combating Obesity summit. Summit participants dispersed into smaller discussion groups, each of which would focus on one of eight priority areas that had been developed by the steering committee based on Institute of Medicine (IOM) goals. These priority areas were: Nutrition Standards in Schools; Physical Activity and Education in Schools; Government/Private Sector/Institutional Nutrition Standards; Physical and Built Environment; Healthy Worksites; Breastfeeding; Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Reduction; and Marketing. (During discussions, a new priority area was identified: Access to Healthy Foods, which is also based on IOM goals.) The purpose of the discussions was to devise a set of objectives and actions for each priority that would form the basis of the framework.

Mitchell Communications of Fayetteville, Arkansas, conducted the two-day facilitation and produced a record of the proceedings, including recommendations for the next steps. In addition to the drafting of the framework itself, the primary recommendation was the formation of an Arkansas obesity prevention commission or foundation. This independent entity would take ownership of the framework and oversee both the creation and implementation of the new statewide plan to improve overall health by reducing obesity.

In October 2015, Healthy Active Arkansas was officially launched and the following year a Board of Directors was established. In June 2017, Healthy Active Arkansas became a 501 c(3) non-profit.

The 2015 launch of HAA

The Board

Meet our partners.

The partners involved in HAA have a strong interest in the health of our state.

  • Arkansas Governor's Office
  • Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield
  • Arkansas Center for Health Improvement
  • Arkansas Children's
  • Arkansas Coalition for Obesity Prevention
  • Arkansas Department of Health
  • Arkansas Department of Human Services
  • Arkansas Minority Health Commission
  • Baptist Health
  • CHI St. Vincent
  • University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
  • Winthrop Rockefeller Institute University of Arkansas System
  • Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care
  • Arkansas Heart Hospital
  • Washington Regional Medical Center


You have questions. We have answers. If you don't see the answer you're looking for, drop us an email.

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Say hello.

Want to learn more about HAA or get involved with one of the nine priority areas? Send us your contact information and we'll be in touch.