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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.
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 37.4 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.
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 within three large areas of focus 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.
We are a large group of people from the public and private sector who are dedicated to working within each of the 3 big areas of interest to make change in the nine priority areas by finding ways to make eating healthy and getting physical activity easier for all Arkansans.
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.
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
Who (or what) is Healthy Active Arkansas?
We are a 501 c(3) nonprofit whose mission is to increase the number of children, adolescents and adults who are at a healthy weight. We focus on nine (big) priority areas, all of which can affect your health. Each of the nine priority areas has a team leader and members who are working on ways to help our communities, schools and entire state be healthier, particularly in the realm of physical activity and nutrition.
Why is it important to increase the number of Arkansans who are at a healthy weight?
In Arkansas, 1 out of every 3 people is obese. People with obesity are more likely to have serious health problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, cancer, heart disease and arthritis. These health problems can reduce your quality of life, cost you money and even shorten your life.
The good news is that these health problems may be prevented or reduced if everyone works together to help each other make healthier choices when it comes to eating and getting physically active.
How can I get involved with one of the Healthy Active Arkansas priority areas?
We’re glad you asked! If you are motivated to move Arkansas toward a healthier future by working with one of our three big areas of interest, send us an email here or visit our Contact Us page, and we’ll get in touch with you with the details.
What is the Healthy Active Arkansas Statewide Learning Network?
Our partner, the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement (ACHI), is hosted a series of Statewide Learning Network meetings, funded by the Blue & You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas, to inform, recruit, and mobilize new champions to assist us and our partners in addressing the state’s obesity crisis. These meetings were geared at community leaders who serve a critical role in guiding local efforts to reduce obesity, a major factor in improving overall health.
A group I am involved in has started its own project that focuses on nutrition and/or physical activity. Can Healthy Active Arkansas help?
Absolutely, that’s why we’re here! We are happy to provide technical assistance and best practices, as well as link you to individuals and organizations who can help you reach your goals. Get in touch with us!
Who can use the Healthy Active Arkansas framework?
The Healthy Active Arkansas framework is intended for anyone to be able to use. It provides you with science-based information about how to make healthy changes. You can start small or big by picking what works best for your family, community, place of worship, or workplace by using some of the tools and ideas outlined in the plan.
How much does obesity cost the state?
Obesity costs our state $1.25 billion a year. This includes medical costs, of which nearly 40 percent is paid by Medicare and Medicaid.