October 15, 2015

UAMS Helps Launch Plan to Improve Arkansans’ Health

Oct. 15, 2015 | UAMS has joined with other state leaders in health care, education, business and government to launch a comprehensive plan to improve the health of all Arkansans.

The plan, called Healthy Active Arkansas, was released Oct. 14 at a news conference at the State Capitol attended by representatives of the different sectors that participated in developing the 10-year plan.

The plan, which can be found at www.healthyactive.org, is a culmination of almost two years of work facilitated by the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute through a leadership group that included UAMS Chancellor Dan Rahn, M.D.

A recently released Robert Wood Johnson Foundation reports said Arkansas has the highest rate of obese adults in the United States.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced the plan, saying Healthy Active Arkansas is a positive message for the state and is important in his goal as governor to help grow the state’s economy and create jobs. He challenged citizens, businesses, health care entities and government to all get involved in putting the plan into action.

The plan contains nine focus areas tied to increasing the health of Arkansans through healthy dietary choices and increased physical activity.

The nine focus areas are:

  • physical and built environment
  • nutritional standards in government, institutions and the private sector
  • nutritional standards in schools — early child care through college
  • physical education and activity in schools — early child care through college
  • healthy worksites
  • access to health foods
  • sugar-sweetened beverage reduction
  • breastfeeding
  • marketing program

Others who spoke at the news conference included Arkansas Surgeon General Greg Bledsoe; Pearl McElfish, Ph.D., research director for UAMS’ northwest Arkansas campus; Michael Knox of the Arkansas Minority Health Commission; Jayme Mayo, a physician assistant representing a successful wellness program at Nabholz Construction; and Troy Wells, CEO of Baptist Health.

McElfish works with the Marshallese and Hispanic populations in northwest Arkansas, which have a higher than average rate of obesity and diabetes. She said the plan recognizes the importance of addressing environmental and other factors such as language barriers and cultural norms that affect minority populations.