2011 NCS Receives Grant to Combat Childhood Obesity


Neighborhood and Community Services (NCS) has received a UnitedHealth Heroes grant from Youth Services America and UnitedHealthcare to implement youth service learning programs designed to prevent childhood obesity. Teen leaders at NCS’s Hideaway Teen Center in Alexandria will engage their peers to identify snacks that would be popular among participants, culturally appropriate, and healthy. They will educate fellow participants on the importance of good nutrition and how to make healthy choices. And they will develop a "menu" of healthy and appealing snack foods and drinks which will be presented to teen-serving programs and centers throughout the county.

Factors relating to healthy food access, such as the availability of nutritious foods in youth-serving programs, are associated with the rising incidence of childhood obesity, which can lead to numerous other adverse health outcomes. Serving healthy snacks in community-based teen programs is an essential strategy for health promotion and behavior change among youth. Simply switching offerings (e.g., substituting fruit and water for chips and soda), however, has proven to be an ineffective solution in many programs, where participants tend to avoid the snacks altogether, bring their own food, or simply leave when they get hungry.

The teen leaders, members of the center’s Teen Action Planners program, are currently in the formative stages of the program, learning about nutrition and planning taste tests and focus groups with their peers. They plan to have final recommendations developed by the end of May.

For more information on the program, please contact Jesse Ellis, NCS Prevention Programming and Resource Development Manager, at 703-324-5626 or jesse.ellis@fairfaxcounty.gov.

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Fairfax County is committed to nondiscrimination on the basis of disability in all county programs, services and activities. Reasonable accommodations will be provided upon request. For more information, call 703-324-4600, TTY 711.


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