Sen. Carper and Delaware Health and Social Services Announce Delaware’s New Healthy Weight Initiative on Affordable Care Act Anniversary

DOVER, Del. – Today, a national initiative to help Delawareans treat and prevent obesity was announced on the second anniversary of the Affordable Care Act by U.S. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), Delaware Health and Social Services Secretary Rita Landgraf, Division of Public Health Director Dr. Karyl Rattay, and U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services Regional Director Joanne Grossi. The event, held at Westside Family Healthcare in Dover, unveiled “Collaborate for Healthy Weight,” made possible by funding from the Affordable Care Act.

“Collaborate for Healthy Weight” is a national effort to reverse the obesity epidemic through innovative local partnerships between primary care doctors and nurses, public health professionals, and leaders of community-based organizations. Delaware’s partnership is one of 50 teams across the nation that will be working together to reverse the obesity epidemic in communities across the country. These community partners will find best practices to help improve the ability of individuals to lead healthy lifestyles, be physically active and eat healthy foods.

“Collaborate for Healthy Weight is just the kind of program that I had in mind when I was working on the Affordable Care Act,” said Sen. Carper. “Keeping fit, eating healthy, and getting regular screenings is the key to staying healthy and driving down health care costs. On this second Anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, I’m reminded that thanks to this legislation, thousands of Delawareans are enjoying significant new health benefits and cost-savings, further helping our nation achieve better health outcomes for less money.”

Delaware has a long history of collaborating to affect change in health for Delaware citizens. Two active collaborations that will play a key role in obesity prevention include the Governor’s Council on Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (GCHPDP) and the Healthy Eating and Active Living Coalition (HEAL). The GCHPDP has a state-wide plan for obesity prevention and care that will serve as the blue-print community plan required by the National Initiative for Children’s Healthcare Quality (NICHQ). The project will start modestly with four to six primary care quality improvement practice teams focused on each community’s unique needs. The teams may include medical professionals, a wellness coach from the YMCA, community leaders, a nurse, a nutritionist and mental health professional, and a Community Health Worker from a local agency or United Way of Delaware and others.

The target population will be adults, children and families served in high need areas, such as Wilmington, the Del. 9 corridor of New Castle County (Claymont-Bear), North and South Dover, Georgetown, West Rehoboth Beach, and Seaford-Bridgeville.

“The Healthy Weight Collaborative helps us target services to communities in need on a very personal level,” said DHSS Secretary Rita Landgraf. “The teams will take a holistic approach and provide both the motivation and tools to help people make healthier choices.”

Added Dr. Karyl Rattay, “The Division of Public Health’s vision for Delaware is healthy people in healthy communities. The healthy weight collaborative grant gives us the opportunity to build upon this vision by bringing together primary care, public health and community-based organizations to work on our common goals: preventing and managing obesity.”

Delaware’s Division of Public Health will serve as the administrative leader in the initiative. Michael Rosenthal, MD, chair of the Department of Family and Community Medicine, will serve as co-chair. Sandra Hassink, MD, chair of the GCHPDP, Director of the A.I. DuPont Children’s Hospital Obesity Initiative and a nationally recognized expert on childhood obesity, will also serve as a faculty leader and assure that the learning collaborative is fully integrated into the GCHPDP’s work.

Agencies and leaders that will be participating on the leadership team or steering committee include:

Governor’s Council on Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (GCHPDP)
Delaware Healthy Eating and Active Living Coalition (HEAL)
Medical Society of Delaware
Academy of Medicine
Delaware chapters of the American Academy of Pediatrics and of the Academy of Family Practice Physicians
Nemours Health and Prevention Services
Christiana Care Health System
University of Delaware and its Health Sciences Alliance
Delaware’s Federally Qualified Health Centers: La Red Health Center, Westside Family Healthcare, and Henrietta Johnson Medical Center
Delaware Health Care Commission
United Way of Delaware
YMCA of Delaware

The $4,000 grant will fund innovative distance learning and web-based opportunities so Delaware can have access to and plan with obesity prevention leaders all over the country. The project will also look at innovative ways to use social media to reach people and share important messages about nutrition and physical activity.

Since 1990, the prevalence of adult obesity in Delaware has more than doubled to 31.5 percent in 2010. About two-thirds of Delaware’s adults are overweight or obese. Approximately 37 percent of Delaware’s children are overweight or obese.

This effort is led by the National Initiative for Children’s Healthcare Quality, in partnership with the Health Resources and Services Administration and is made possible by funding from the Affordable Care Act.