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VOL. 128 | NO. 29 | Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Jeremy Park

Million Calorie Reduction Match

By Jeremy Park

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This week let us discuss a nonprofit organization, Healthy Memphis Common Table, whose mission is to mobilize Greater Memphis to achieve excellent health for all, along with one of their programs aimed at addressing obesity, the Million Calorie Reduction Match.

Healthy Memphis Common Table is a regional health and health care improvement collaborative for the Greater Memphis area. The organization is comprised of over 200 community partners and focused on improving the quality of primary care, empowering patients and caregivers, fighting childhood and family obesity, reducing diabetes, heart disease, and pediatric asthma, and eliminating food deserts in low income neighborhoods. They are working at all levels within the healthcare industry, like analyzing data to reduce inefficiencies while working on much larger, broader campaigns that support healthy eating and physical activity.

One such community-wide campaign is the Million Calorie Reduction Match. Aimed at reducing obesity rates in Shelby County and improving the nutrition habits and physical activity of citizens, the project seeks to transform the food, beverage and physical activity environments within corporations, organizations and community venues through policy change. It is no secret that if we reduce the number of calories we consume and increase our physical activity, we can become healthier. The idea is simple, yet powerful: work with employers and stakeholders to create an environment that reduces calories and fosters healthy lifestyle choices and activities.

Just looking around the office, there are simple things that employers can do to reduce available calories and create a more health-conscience environment. Serving healthier meals and beverages at meetings, providing healthier options in vending machines, and increasing physical activity opportunities, like walking meetings or walk breaks, can make a big difference. Swapping candy bars with 100 calorie snack options can yield a calorie reduction of more than a hundred thousand each year. The key is to make the healthy choice the easy choice for your team by focusing on three policies: 1) Healthy meetings/events, 2) Healthy vending, and 3) Healthy physical activity.

MCRM is designed to help organizations and employers develop, adopt and implement these policies and a reward system for a healthier environment. Their two-year goal is to engage more than 100 participants, including municipalities, businesses, nonprofits and schools, along with faith-based and civic groups. Healthy Memphis Common Table will help participants with the planning, adoption, and assessments. They will also help connect participants with local resources, as needed. Participants will be recognized for their efforts with Certificates of Achievement.

Learn more at www.healthymemphis.org or by contacting Mary Jo Greil, Project Coordinator, at 800-5115 or maryjo.greil@healthymemphis.org.

Jeremy Park, director of the Lipscomb Pitts Breakfast Club, can be reached at jeremyp@lpinsurance.com and followed on Twitter (@lpbreakfastclub) and Facebook (facebook.com/lpbreakfastclub).

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