For REACHUP, Inc. the most opportune time to engage women and their families is the Interconception period (between pregnancies).  As a primary intervention, REACHUP will expand and enhance its existing Interconception Program to offer a program designed to reduce the incidence and prevalence of overweight/obesity in these women and their families, a need clearly supported by research and an analysis of local data. As a home visiting program providing case management to pregnant women, a secondary point of in-kind intervention will enhance breastfeeding awareness, education and support for our prenatal consumers. This proposed project, REACHUP4LIFE, is an enhancement to our core service activities.

  Many community programs have initiated weight management programs with limited success.  However, emerging literature indicates that sleeping better (not just longer), reducing and coping with chronic stress more effectively and promoting healthier behavior appear to be very important for about 50% of obese individuals in the general US population (Vgontzas & Bixler, 2008).  For African Americans, the proportion likely to be impacted positively by this three-pronged approach is higher, with an increased likelihood in the medium stress group (Bidulescu, et. al., 2010). Thus, the proposed program, REACHUP4LIFE, will emphasize sleep hygiene education and stress reduction as well as healthy behaviors such as nutrition and physical activity. 

  The major goals are of the REACHUP4Life Program is to reduce the incidence and prevalence of overweight and obesity in Interconception Program participants by individual weight loss of 5-10% over a period of 6 months and . The second goal is to increase quality of life as indicated by self-reports.  By working on these goals, the project hopes to improve nutrition and appropriate eating behaviors and sleep behaviors, decrease stress levels and increase physical activity. We aim, overall, to enhance community’s health, reduce morbidity and premature morality, and reduce health care costs.

  Examples of activities include conducting health education focused on nutrition and stress.  In addition administering assessments to gauge readiness to embark on the behavior change physical fitness, mental health and sleep.

  “Improved nutrition, appropriate eating behaviors, and increased physical activity have tremendous potential to decrease the prevalence of overweight and obesity, enhance the overall public’s health, reduce morbidity and premature mortality, and reduce health care costs” (U. S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services, 2010, p. 19).

Funder: Allegany Franciscan Ministries