A Clear View – Obesity and Isolation

Obesity and Isolation

5-2-1-0: get at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, no more than two hours of recreational screen time a day, at least one hour of physical activity a day and zero sugary drinks.

As anyone knows who has been participating in the Oxford County Wellness Collaborative, the group has partnered with the Maine Health Access Foundation (MeHAF) to craft a new approach to population health. The approach is to engage the population itself in creating the healthy community we wish to live in. Part of that community engagement process included a gathering of community members to identify a “root cause” that might be behind many of the health issues in Oxford County. The consensus of the gathering was that isolation and disconnection and, as part of that, not feeling valued was a root cause that we could focus on and try to address.

We also went through a process with Stephens Memorial Hospital and Rumford Hospital to engage the community around recent health assessment data for Oxford County to provide the hospitals feedback as to the population health priorities in our communities. The two priorities that rose to the top were behavioral health, which includes substance use disorder and mental health, and obesity, which includes nutrition and physical activity.

The Collaborative then engaged the community to select existing programs that address these priority health issues for which we could apply MeHAF resources to address our chosen root cause. A variety of criteria were used to select two programs for each health issue. The two programs for obesity that were chosen are the Alan Day Community Garden in Norway and my program, 5210 Let’s Go! Oxford County. The resources will help the Community Garden, a program that already addresses the root cause, to support successful community engagement in more places. The resources will help 5210 Let’s Go! Oxford County, a program that is already county-wide, to develop tools and strategies to address the root cause. These materials will then be piloted in the Head Start programs managed by Community Concepts.

If you would like to learn more and get engaged with this work yourself I encourage you to come to the next gathering of the Oxford County Wellness Collaborative on November 14 from 4:30 to 7:30 at the Fryeburg Fairgrounds Dining Hall (by the Livestock office).



Carl Costanzi, Ph.D. is the 5210 Let’s Go! Program Coordinator for Western Maine Health. You can connect with him at the Healthy Oxford Hills building, at 890-6102 or at costanzica@wmhcc.org.

reprinted with the permission of the Advertiser Democrat