ASCC-CNR Hosts Annual CHL Meeting
June 6, 2014
By James Kneubuhl, ASCC Press Officer
The Children’s Healthy Living (CHL) Program for Remote Underserved Minority Populations in the Pacific Region concluded its fourth annual meeting earlier this month, an event sponsored by the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) Community & Natural Resources (CNR) division, the local CHL partner. The CHL, through partnerships across Hawaii, Alaska and the American Pacific, strives to train a public health nutrition work force; to conduct public health nutrition research; to develop a food, nutrition, and physical activity data management and evaluation system; and to communicate nutrition and health related information to the public.
“We support positive systems for health and environments that encourage healthy living,” explained CHL Principal Investigator Rachel Novotny, PhD, RDN, who is also Professor and Chair of the Nutrition PhD Program at UH Manoa. We aim to prevent obesity in children as a primary intervention of non-communicable disease, and to leave a legacy of Pacific wellness.”
Meeting participants included CHL partners from Hawaii, Alaska, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, the Marshall Islands, Yap, Pohnpei, Kosrae, and Chuuk. “We worked on identifying and supporting community based actions that modify the environment to make it easier for children to eat more healthfully and to be more active,” explained Novotny of the meeting’s purpose. “We are planning for analyses of information collected in communities, and for policies that can be enacted that support this endeavor.”
In addition to policy discussions, the meeting itinerary included field trips to local intervention sites including Leloaloa (Mary the Mother Montessori School), Alofau Elementary School, and Early Childhood Education centers in Aua and Masefau. “We were humbled by the effort made by CNR, and appreciative of the warm welcome and friendliness of the people,” said Novotny. Asked for advice the average family might keep in mind to promote better health, she offered some general guidelines. “Healthy routines are key to a healthy diet,” Novotny observed. “Fresh local food is usually healthful and nutritious. Drink more clean water and fewer sugar sweetened beverages, and eat more fruits and vegetables. Also, many portion sizes can be decreased.”
In the near future, Novotny foresees a continuation and expansion of the work CHL has begun. “We have worked to further focus our efforts to improve the environment in our communities so children can eat healthy local food, engage in active play and get needed sleep,” she said. “We are preparing to further strengthen these efforts in the upcoming year. We seek to expand partnerships with schools, churches, governments and other organizations that are also working in this area. We have gathered information to help us identify and support Pacific-wide ways to health, and we are organizing this information for reports we can share with communities to encourage system and policy changes that can sustain healthier living.” For more information on CHL, visit their web page at: www.chl-pacific.org.