Obesity issues affect an individual and the community in which they live. Excess weight creates health problems leading to heart disease, cancer, diabetes, orthopedic difficulties and more. It can create mental health and self-esteem issues as well as limit worker productivity. Today obesity affects how buildings and transportation are designed.
Enter Weight of the Fox Valley, a three-county (Calumet, Outagamie and Winnebago) initiative working together to achieve and maintain a healthy weight at every age. “There is virtually no aspect of our community not impacted by this issue,” said Keren Rosenberg, program manager, WOTFV.
The initiative was established after a two-day summit in the spring of 2013, at which more than 150 concerned people agreed that obesity was as an emerging priority in the Fox Cities. The summit was sponsored by the Fox Valley HealthCare Coalition, Oshkosh and Fox Cities United Ways, and ThedaCare’s Community Health Action Team (CHAT). ThedaCare includes Appleton Medical Center and Theda Clark Medical Center in Neenah, hospitals that serve those three counties.
WOTFV is using a relatively new approach to creating social change called Collective Impact. “Collective Impact is about creating a common approach with shared measurement and an appreciation of all the existing efforts currently underway,” said Rosenberg. “By mutually reinforcing efforts, developing strong communication and providing infrastructure support through a backbone organization (United Way), WOTFV can have a significant impact unlike any other effort that has come before.”
Rosenberg said the work of WOTFV is being tracked to show results. Area health systems are working with the University of Wisconsin School and Medicine and Public Health in Madison to track body mass index (BMI) scores for all patients from the four Fox Valley health systems in the three county region. “Reduction in collective BMI scores will be the high level shared metric,” said Rosenberg. “Goals, metrics and indicators will be established at the Action Team level as well to assess intermediate impact.”