Communities tackle weighty problem

Foundation a partner in Weight of the Fox Valley initiative

Did you know that 72 percent of adults living in Winnebago County are either overweight or obese?

Statistics show that carrying extra weight takes a toll on the body.

Foundation’s role

  • $30,000 Community Impact grant support over two years
  • President/CEO Diane Abraham serves on Leadership Team
  • Weight of the Fox Valley is one of 10 initiatives, projects or programs that received a total $134,500 in grant funding from the Foundation as the result of the Community Impact competitive grant cycle in fall 2014. See the full list.
  • Be a changemaker

  • Set a realistic health goal. For example, “I will drink one more glass of water each day,” or “I will take a 10 minute walk at lunch time.”
  • Follow the movement on Facebook for healthy living tips, local resources and activities and updates. “Like” the page and share your health goals.
  • Join an action teams to help advance the movement: Active Communities, Early Childhood, Food Systems, Healthcare, Schools and Worksite.
  • Questions? Contact Keren Rosenberg, Program Manager by email.

  • Obesity contributes to four of the 10 leading causes of death among adults in the United States, including coronary heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes and cancer.

    The Oshkosh Area Community Foundation is one of the partner organizations supporting a new three-county initiative that aims to turn the tide against these negative health effects in the Fox Valley.

    Weight of the Fox Valley (WOTFV) is a movement in Calumet, Outagamie and Winnebago counties that encourages residents to achieve and maintain a healthy weight at every age.

    WOTFV aims to create healthy communities, where being active outside is safe and easy, where there is access to healthy foods and access to health care.

    “Hopefully, what WOTFV can do for the city of Oshkosh is start promoting those things that people can do to better their individual health,” says Julia Salomon, a WOTFV core team member from Oshkosh who is a corporate dietitian for Affinity Health System and Community Health Improvement Leader for St. Elizabeth Hospital.

    “Ultimately, it’s going to entail a lot of community conversations.”

    And that’s exactly what’s on the agenda for 2015, she says. Salomon and other WOTFV team members will be speaking to civic groups, schools and community organizations in the Oshkosh area to start those conversations.

    They will ask people to take steps like setting a personal wellness goal, following WOTFV on Facebook and joining an action teams. Two community action teams — Active Communities and Worksite — already are planning activities. Two more — Childcare and Education and Food System — will pull members together for the first time at the Community Health Breakfast on April 24 at the Best Western Premier Bridgewood Resort Hotel in Neenah. The public is invited to attend.

    WOTFV Program Manager Keren Rosenberg says the initiative is unique in how it will determine its progress.
    The four regional health systems — Affinity, Aurora, ThedaCare and Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin-Fox Valley — and the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health are establishing a database of Body Mass Index (BMI), age, gender and location. The database is unique and unprecedented in that it will provide an overall picture of health throughout the region that is based on actual data rather than surveys. (BMI is a measurement routinely used to determine a healthy weight.)

    “In the past, all of the measures of BMI were self-reported. So people would get a phone call and were asked “What is your height,’ and “What is your weight,’ and sometimes people are not very honest,” Rosenberg says. “But WOTFV is going to have real measures. The four health systems got together and agreed to share this information, and that is an achievement.”

    The database creates a common measure of success, which is one of the elements of a new approach this initiative is taking to create social change called collective impact. Cross-sector participation, mutually supported efforts and consistent messaging among partners are other key factors.

    “What we have found is that there is a lot of work being done by individual groups,” Salomon says. “What WOTFV has done is bring everyone together, and there’s been a lot of cross-pollination of activities.”

    The project is using the Wisconsin Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity Plan as its guide, she says, and action teams have a great resource in the What Works for Health — a state created database rating the effectiveness of community health policies and programs.

    “We’re very excited,” Salomon says. “Yes, it’s a big project. Yes, it’s slow moving. But it’s a starting point. Ultimately, we want to move the needle on this this growing problem.”


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