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Caitlin Loveitt, Let’s Go!
Let’s Go! Recognizes More Than 900 Sites for Creating Places Full of Healthy Choices
Schools, child care programs and out-of-school programs are encouraging healthy snacks, offering more physical activity and swapping sugary drinks with water.
PORTLAND, Maine – Let’s Go! is honoring more than 900 sites across Maine and New Hampshire’s Mt. Washington Valley for their positive impact on children’s health, a 25 percent increase over last year. 105 schools, 254 school cafeterias, 107 out-of-school programs and 331 child care programs are proactively implementing the program’s five evidence-based strategies to increase daily healthy habits. 112 health care practices are initiating conversations to reinforce the importance of healthy habits.
Let’s Go! sites instill a positive relationship with food and enthusiasm for healthy choices – 90 percent limit or eliminate sugary drinks and promote water as the drink of choice, 87 percent prohibit the use of food as a reward and 80 percent limit unhealthy choices during snacks and celebrations, focusing on alternatives. Additionally, 90 percent of evaluated sites provide opportunities for physical activity outside of recess on a daily basis.
“We work with more than 1,300 sites and to see 70 percent of them meet our criteria for recognition is truly impressive. Our partners work hard, each and every day, to make sure the kids in their care understand why healthy choices matter,” said Victoria Rogers, M.D., senior director of Let’s Go! program. “At Let’s Go! we believe healthy habits make happy kids, and that’s why we’re dedicated to decreasing childhood obesity one healthy choice at a time.”
Introduced in 2012, the Let’s Go! recognition program identifies and celebrates schools, out-of-school programs, child care programs and health care practices for their role in improving the health of all children. The program focuses on sustainable change. A Bronze award reflects a site’s implementing the program’s five evidence-based priority strategies. Silver acknowledges a site that has communicated these changes to parents and family members. Gold, the highest level of recognition, is reserved for sites that have written all five priority strategies into policy or have school staff participate on the district’s wellness committee.
Let’s Go! also recognizes school cafeterias for helping kids make healthy choices.
“95 percent of partner cafeterias reporting serve easy-to-eat sliced or cut fruit, and 93 percent offer a variety of vegetables to appeal to choosy taste buds,” said Let’s Go! program manager Ashley Edmondson. “Many cafeterias are even engaging students in growing their own food with activities such as gardening and farm tours.”
Of the 1,306 sites across 263 towns that Let’s Go! partners with, 70 percent met the criteria for recognition, a 3 percent increase from 2017. A list of 2018’s recognized sites can be found at sites/letsgo.org.
Child care, school, and out-of-school sites are recognized for three levels of commitment to Let’s Go!’s five priority strategies:
- Limit unhealthy choices for snacks and celebrations, provide healthy choices.
- Limit or eliminate sugary beverages, provide water.
- Prohibit the use of food as a reward.
- Provide opportunities for children to get physical activity every day.
Limit recreational screen time.
Health care sites are recognized for three practice specific, obesity prevention program components:
- Providing consistent 5-2-1-0 messaging in offices.
- Calculating BMI for all patients aged 2 and older.
Using the 5-2-1-0 Healthy Habits Questionnaire to have a respectful conversation about lifestyles with their patients.
School cafeterias’ recognition status is determined based on the number of Smarter Lunchroom strategies they implemented during the school year. Most of the 60 strategies stem from behavioral economics and are designed to make the healthy choice the easy choice.
About Let’s Go!
Let’s Go! is a nationally recognized childhood obesity prevention program that reaches children and families where they live, learn, work and play. Let’s Go! is committed to promoting policy and environmental changes at child care programs, schools, out-of-school programs, health care practices, and workplaces.. The program’s multi-setting approach, daily 5-2-1-0 message (five or more fruits and vegetables, two hours or less of screen time, one hour or more of physical activity and zero sugary drinks) and 10 evidence-based strategies are used to effect change across the state of Maine. Strong leadership from The Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center and collaboration across health systems and community health coalitions contribute to the program’s success.