Start Today for a Healthy Tomorrow
Posted on: Friday, January 22, 2010Our local public health department named obesity among children, adolescents and adults in our community as one of the top priorities to be addressed. Data collected from national sources at the time reported that 15 percent of the child and adolescent population were overweight and 60 percent of the adult population is either overweight or obese. This data was comparable to the percentages identified for the three local schools that we assessed.
Knowing that the problem of obesity is multi-faceted, we decided that a social marketing plan that included a health promotion campaign related to physical activity and nutrition would be the best way to reach our citizens. The overall goal of the social marketing plan is to improve the health status of our community by increasing the number of people who eat healthier and participate in regular physical activity. The health promotion campaign is aimed at increasing physical activity and awareness of healthy eating, healthy body weight and the relationship between excess weight and disease.
Our first step was the creation of a slogan that could be used throughout the campaign: “Start Today for a Healthy Tomorrow.” Next, we identified the specific variables of the campaign. The products to be achieved were improved health, self-esteem, higher energy levels, and longer lives free of chronic disease and disability. The price of this product was mainly time – walking for 15 minutes during lunch and learning to substitute nutritious foods for less healthy ones. The place for marketing our product included schools, churches, workplaces, malls and health fairs. The final step in the planning was to decide how to promote all of these activities. A variety of approaches were identified including radio, TV, newspaper, tri-fold displays, and collaboration with community groups. In addition, the planning group considered policy changes that would address the goals of the health campaign. These policy changes included selling water instead of pop from school vending machines, using registered dieticians to plan school meals, requiring physical education classes for all grades, building sidewalks in all neighborhoods, and developing school walking programs.
Campaign implementation has been extensive. We partnered with the local radio station, which aired public service announcements with the health promotion messages. The station even developed a weight loss challenge of its own and produced a weekly radio show hosted by one of the public health nurses. The local chapters of the American Cancer Society and American Heart Association provided pamphlets for the community. In partnership with local public health staff, the local TV station is producing a health and nutrition show. The show has featured children cooking healthy foods, interviews with local grocers about healthy produce, and instructions on how to prepare fruits and vegetables in quick and economical ways. Faith community nurses are displaying bulletin boards with information about exercise and nutrition at their respective churches. These nurses also serve as resources for people with questions and people who want to change specific behaviors. Corporations have provided healthy product samples for the public to try. And finally the local newspapers have published articles about the issue.
The outcomes of the social marketing plan and the effectiveness of the health promotion campaign are difficult to evaluate. Thus far the number of comments received on specific activities, the number of program requests received, and the number of radio and TV spots aired are being tracked.