Alegent Health Invites Community Participation in Collaborative Effort to Assess and Curb Childhood Obesity
Release Date: 12/04/2006

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Community stakeholders invited to help create roadmap to significantly reduce childhood obesity by 2011 at December 7-8, 2006 Decision Accelerator Session OMAHA, Neb. – Alegent Health has invited a broad and far-reaching representation of community stakeholders to collaboratively create a plan to significantly reduce the incidence of childhood obesity in our community by 2011. Invited stakeholders will participate in Alegent Health’s Decision Accelerator Session on Childhood Obesity December 7-8, 2006. The event marks the kick-off of a new initiative and commitment by Alegent Health to measurably improve the health of the community by forging a collaborative, community-based campaign to address childhood obesity in the greater Omaha and Council Bluffs area. “Childhood obesity, in all its dimensions, is cause for major concern in our community,’’ said Wayne Sensor, CEO of Alegent Health. “It’s time for us to come together and develop comprehensive, community-based, consumer-driven solutions that will protect our children from the devastating, life-long effects of obesity.” Obesity rates continue to rise in the United States and the increase among children and adolescents is particularly alarming. In the last three decades, the percentage of children who are overweight has more than doubled among those aged 6 to 11 and tripled among those aged 12 to 19. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 16 percent of all children nationwide are now considered overweight. The problem is particularly worrisome in Nebraska, which ranks as the 20th heaviest state in the nation and has an adult obesity rate of 24.4 percent. Being overweight increases the chance that children and teenagers will develop type 2 diabetes, experience risk factors for heart disease at an earlier age and develop chronic diseases in adulthood such as cancer and stroke. Alegent Health is launching the collaborative effort as part of its broader vision to measurably improve the health of the community. As the community’s largest, faith-based, not-for-profit healthcare organization, Alegent Health is focusing on developing an inclusive, community-wide initiative to tackle the childhood obesity crisis. The first step is to gather a wide-range of community stakeholders to assess current efforts related to curbing childhood obesity, and identify associated gaps and opportunities. This will occur at the December 7-8 Decision Accelerator Session at Alegent Health’s Right Track facility, designed expressly for this innovative way to create shared visions and collaborative solutions. This process, which Alegent Health has successfully adapted from Silicon Valley and the technology industry and applied to a variety of health care and community initiatives, involves real-time identification of key issues; decisions about desirable outcomes and the establishment of benchmarks to quantify progress. Objectives of this session will include: Creation of a community “map” that identifies the location and scope of agencies addressing childhood obesity in the Greater Omaha area. Understanding the systemic factors that lead to childhood obesity and the leverage points to reverse the trend. Development of a community vision for reducing childhood obesity by 2011, and short-term action plans for the next six to 18 months to achieve the first horizon of progress towards reaching the 2011 goal. “Consistent with Alegent Health’s consumer-driven approach that puts our patients and our communities at the center of all we do, we intend to undertake this process in an open and transparent fashion that invites feedback and participation from the community as a whole,” said Sensor. Following the first session, the Community-wide Needs Assessment will reveal the strengths and deficiencies in children’s health, community awareness, existing programs, information and other health influences. It will then serve as a platform for new ideas, innovations and initiatives with which the community can address childhood obesity collectively. “Measurable improvements in the health of our children will lead to healthier children and adults, stronger families and sustainable medical costs for our community,” said Sensor. Alegent Health is the largest not-for-profit, faith-based healthcare system in Nebraska and southwestern Iowa with nine acute care hospitals, more than 100 sites of service, over 1,200 physicians on its medical staff and roughly 8,500 employees. Alegent Health is making healthcare better with an exceptional commitment to quality and by providing patient focused care for the body, mind and spirit of every person. At Alegent Health, patients and their families find a continuum of care, from women's and children's services, primary care, wellness counseling, and senior care to cardiovascular services, orthopaedics, oncology, physical rehabilitation and behavioral health. Alegent Health is sponsored by Catholic Health Initiatives and Immanuel Health Systems.