Hospital, schools partner on program
Memorial Hospital of Union County is teaming up with Union County Schools for the fourth round of a program called 5-4-3-2-1 Go!
In the spring of 2010, the hospital worked with the schools to get students to adopt healthy lifestyle habits through the program.
"The first year, we reached 410 students (fourth- and fifth-graders) in eight different schools," said Debbie Stubbs, Memorial Hospital of Union County, Health Center.
The program targets fourth- and fifth-graders and tries to get them to adapt to new daily habits. These include eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, four servings of water a day, and three servings of dairy a day; spending no more than two hours a day on the computer or watching television; and participating in at least one hour of physical activity per day.
Results from the first year showed the program was effective with the daily consumption of five fruits and vegetables improving by 32 percent among the students. Results also showed 30 percent improvement in four servings of water and three or more dairy servings. The number of students reporting two or less hours of screen time per day improved by 22 percent and the number of students getting one hour of activity daily improved by 25 percent.
During the first year, the program was open to students ages 10 to 12.
"Of the 1,000 eligible students, a remarkable 41 percent opted to sacrifice valued recess time to take part in the learning and activities," said Stubbs.
By the third year, the 2011-2012 school year, the number of students dropped to 386 students but included fourth-graders only in eight different schools: Marysville elementary schools Raymond, Mill Valley, Navin, Northwood, and Edgewood along with Trinity, Fairbanks, North Union and St. Johns.
Despite fewer students, other numbers increased with an improvement of 44 percent in students consuming five fruits and vegetables a day, 41 percent consuming four servings of water, 72 percent consuming three or more dairy servings, 42 percent reporting two or less hours of screen time per day, and 63 percent getting one hour of activity daily.
According to Mill Valley Elementary Principal Greg Casto, the program is now offered to all fourth-grade students in Marysville on a voluntary basis.
"Our guidance folks make arrangements for this with our fourth-graders with parent permission," said Casto.
A 2009-2010 Foundation for Healthy Communities report showed childhood obesity tripled over the last 25 years and affects nearly one in five Ohio children.
Ohio ranked 13th, nationally, in prevalence of childhood obesity, according to the report.
The 5-4-3-2-1 Go! program began in Chicago. In June 2009, Memorial Hospital of Union County was one of four Ohio hospitals awarded a total of $100,000 in Hospitals for Healthier Children grants to team up with local schools to help fight childhood obesity.
The Cleveland Clinic, Dunlap Community Hospital in Orrville, and Miami Valley Hospital were the other three Ohio hospitals to receive the grant money.
The program claims to provide health information in a fun and interactive way offering a variety of activities, such as interactive games, fruit and vegetable tastings, food journaling and end-of-program celebrations.
"We use high school kids to teach the classes and it has worked out well. The High Point students from Marysville go to the Marysville and Fairbanks schools and North Union students do their school. The teachers also assist at Fairbanks," said Stubbs.
Each school also received the game, "Dance, Dance Revolution," as well as food preparation tools for the food service staff to be able to more easily offer fruits and vegetables on a daily basis.