Diabetes and asthma were being diagnosed in children by local pediatricians, health departments and our free clinics in the region at an astounding rate. Samaritan Health Services (SHS) leaders knew that clinical care alone could not reduce these conditions. By partnering with local schools, after-school agencies, child care providers, non-profit groups and the medical community, a Childhood Obesity Prevention Committee was formed to identify strategies that could prevent obesity and address chronic conditions in young children. The committee decided to implement Coordinated Approach to Child Health (CATCH), an evidence-based obesity-prevention program, in multiple sites across the region.
CATCH is a comprehensive nutrition and physical activity education program that engages children of all ages, races, ethnicities, social economic background and disabilities. CATCH utilizes proven approaches that provide children the opportunity to experience from-seed-to-plate healthy eating and structured physical activities that have been shown to reduce childhood obesity. CATCH was launched in 2011 with a federal grant and support from Samaritan North Lincoln Hospital. Since then, the program has been implemented in 15 elementary schools, 9 after-school programs and 5 preschool programs in the region, and continues to be supported by SHS.
CATCH has been implemented in east Linn and Lincoln counties since 2011. Based on the latest project evaluation in 2015, 6,875 children were exposed to CATCH curricula, and physical education activities increased from 42 percent in 2011 to 55 percent in 2015. Additionally, a cultural shift has occurred in preschool, k-12 and after-school programs, bringing healthy eating and more physical activities to all CATCH sites. Childhood obesity rates in Linn and Lincoln counties have dropped, with Linn County reporting 25 percent childhood obesity in 2011 and 12 percent in 2015, and Lincoln County reporting 44 percent obesity in 2011 and 19 percent in 2015. CATCH continues to be implemented in 29 sites across east Linn and Lincoln County with at least 8,675 children in 2016 experiencing CATCH activities and curricula. Although we can’t contribute the reductions in obesity to the CATCH program alone, we feel confident it played a role in reducing obesity in the region.
CATCH programs have been coordinated in our region through a partnership with local preschool, k-12, and after-school programs. East Linn and Lincoln counties each had a coordinator hired by SHS to manage and support each of the sites. It is important to maintain the key coordinator to sustain the program. The reduction of a 1.0 FTE paid staff to a .25 FTE to coordinate the program in each county resulted in the inability of additional sites to participate in the CATCH program, as well as the inability to expand the program to Benton County.
To enhance the CATCH program, Samaritan Lebanon Community Hospital was fortunate to receive a three-year Rural Health Network Development grant in July 2017 from the Health Resources Services Administration-Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. The Culinary Health Education and Fitness program (CHEF) is a combination of the CATCH program and cooking classes taught in east Linn, Lincoln and rural Benton Counties. Through the grant, we have hired a 1.0 FTE project director and two .50 FTE county coordinators who are overseeing the CHEF project. Under this expansion, we are adding the CATCH program to two school districts in rural Benton County, four additional sites in east Linn County and five additional sites in Lincoln County. We will begin offering cooking classes to existing and new CATCH sites during fall 2017. We also have contracted with a consultant to evaluate the project over the next three years and have expanded partnerships with Oregon State University-Linus Pauling Institute, College of Osteopathic Medicine – Pacific Northwest, Food Share of Lincoln County, Alsea and Monroe School Districts.
Contact: Julie Manning
Vice President, Marketing/Public Relations