Iowa has been chosen to be part of a national effort to fight obesity. Catherine Lillehoj is a research analyst with the Iowa Department of Public Health.
“Iowa is part of a national initiative that is being funded through the Healthy Weight Collaborative, which is a virtual collaborative that has formed around the entire United States,” Lillehoj explains.
The state has chosen one section of the state for the focus of the program.
“We are working with the six counties that are in the Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative, and through the virtual team collaborative we will design a project, that we will be working on,” Lillehoj says.
She says they will be working with partners at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. Lillehoj says the chose the six northeast Iowa counties because of the work already underway with the food and fitness initiative there.
“And also northeast Iowa is a fairly rural area, and we know that in more rural areas of the state that opportunities to access physical activity and healthy nutrition may not be as abundant as more urban areas,” Lillehoj says.
There is no money that comes with joining the national effort. But Lillehoj says there are plenty of virtual resources available.
“For example, web-based, there’s webinars that we have, phone conferences and we will also be developing some on-line resources. For example, Facebook pages or perhaps Twitter,” Lillehoj says.
She says making it all virtual saves a lot of resources, especially for those areas farther out in the state.
The six counties are: Allamakee, Chickasaw, Clayton, Fayette, Howard, Winneshiek.
Lillehoj says many of the towns have fewer than 300 residents and struggle with rural isolation. The project will run through February 2013.
For more information, visit: www.collaborateforhealthyweight.org.