Childhood obesity programs based on the fundamentals of the AAFP's Americans In Motion-Healthy Interventions, or AIM-HI, initiative are on track to be implemented in as many as 18 family medicine residency programs next year.
The Academy is accepting applications for grants to help residency programs develop one-year, family-centered, community projects designed to reduce childhood obesity and promote fitness. Grants of $10,000 to $30,000 will be awarded to between 10 and 18 residency programs.
"This is a great opportunity for the Academy to blend what it does in terms of policy with the training of residents," said Yvette Rooks, M.D., director of the University of Maryland Medical Center's Family and Community Medicine Residency program, Baltimore, and a member of the AIM-HI Medical Advisory Panel. "This will provide training for residents on how to promote healthy lifestyles.
"We don't get a lot of training in residency about prescribing physical activity. This is an opportunity to provide resources and curricular components and implement training related to healthy eating, physical activity and emotional well-being."
The project is being funded through a $250,000 grant from the MetLife Foundation. This is the fifth time in three years that MetLife has provided funding for AIM-HI.
AIM-HI offers physicians three primary tools to help patients follow a healthy lifestyle:
- a fitness inventory, which gauges a patient's confidence about their fitness and their readiness to change;
- a food and activity journal, which helps patients track healthy eating, physical activity and emotional well-being lifestyle behaviors; and
- a fitness prescription, through which the patient and the physician establish mutually agreed-on goals that are assessed periodically.
Preliminary results from a research project conducted by the AAFP National Research Network, or AAFP NRN, indicate that AIM-HI can help patients increase physical activity, make healthier choices, lose weight and maintain those lifestyle changes.
The AAFP NRN study, which involved nearly two dozen primary care practices, produced the following preliminary results:
- the number of patients who reported physical activity at least 20 minutes a day, three times a week, increased by 10 percent from baseline to four months, and the number of patients reporting the same amount of physical activity from baseline to 10 months increased by 10.1 percent;
- the number of patients who ate at least a half serving more of healthy foods each week increased by nearly 42 percent from baseline to 10 months, and the number of patients who ate at least half a serving less of unhealthy foods each week increased by nearly 45 percent during that period; and
- nearly 12 percent of patients lost 10 pounds or more from baseline to four months, and nearly 18 percent lost 10 pounds or more from baseline to 10 months.
- Funding is limited to new projects.
- Projects should address childhood obesity by promoting any or all of the components of fitness, which are physical activity, healthy eating and emotional well-being. They also should address barriers to any or all of those components.
- Projects should target underserved populations.
- Projects should have an evaluation plan.
- The projects should be included as part of training residents, who will be involved in developing the projects.
Grant applications should be e-mailed to AAFP senior staff assistant Michelle Egbert by Oct. 3. Residency programs selected will be notified by Nov. 1.
"With a lot of grant programs it's, 'Here's the money. Now do it this way," said Rooks, who also is vice chair and assistant professor of family and community medicine at the University of Maryland Medical Center and a member of the AAFP Commission on Health of the Public and Science. "These AIM-HI programs can be tailored to the needs of an individual community.
"This will enhance residency training because residents will learn about obesity, how to work with the community, and they will learn how to create a program so they can do it themselves when they are out in their own practice."
Rooks also noted that tying AIM-HI to residency training carries the added benefit of providing residents with positive early exposure to the Academy.
"This shows them that AAFP is more than just a journal they get in the mail," she said. "They will know the Academy is supporting their residency and training, and, hopefully, they will support the AAFP."