With all the focus on COVID-19, a lot of people are wondering how they can protect themselves and their children from illness in general. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that Americans should wash their hands, avoid close contact with people outside their home, and to wear face coverings when they do have to go out in public.
Did you know that eating a healthy diet may help as well? Nutrition scientists have long known that eating a healthy diet, rich in protein, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, can boost immune function and help your body fight off illness.
In January 2020, NWBRV launched a partnership with Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center at The Miriam Hospital. NWBRV works to help the Research Center develop relationships with local organizations and build a presence in Woonsocket, to further the reach of their community-based weight loss program, JOIN For Me. We figured we’d turn to the experts to hear what they had to say about nutrition and how we can keep our families healthy.
Meet Dr. E. Whitney Evans
Dr. E. Whitney Evans is a Research Scientist at the Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center at The Miriam Hospital and an Assistant Professor (Research) in the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at Brown University Medical School. She is a clinical dietitian and nutritional epidemiologist whose research focuses on the role of diet in excess weight gain in children. Through a grant from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a team from The Miriam Hospital and Brown University Alpert Medical School will bring an effective childhood obesity treatment program called JOIN for ME to Providence, Central Falls and Woonsocket.
Advice from Dr. Evans
As a Registered Dietitian and Nutritional Epidemiologist, I spend most of my career studying the diet of children and how it relates to their weight and health. Unfortunately, most research shows that Americans do not consume a high-quality diet. Instead, as a nation, we eat too much sugar, fat and salt. This is likely why so many Americans struggle with their weight and weight-related illnesses like diabetes and heart disease. Even childhood overweight and obesity are quite common. In Rhode Island, 35% of children have overweight or obesity, and in Woonsocket, estimates are even higher – as 39% of children have overweight or obesity.
JOIN for ME
The good news is that effective programs exist to help families adopt healthier lifestyles and help children lose weight. With the help of community partners like Neighborworks Blackstone River Valley and the Woonsocket Housing Authority, we plan to offer JOIN for ME to families in Woonsocket starting this fall. Before doing so, however, we want to learn from parents who have a child with overweight or obesity. To make JOIN for ME work specifically for families living here in Woonsocket, we are meeting with parents to ask what they like and dislike about our program materials, what resources they would need to be a part of JOIN for ME, and how the program should be offered to make it easier for them to participate.
If you have a child between the ages of 6 and 12 who has overweight or obesity, we would love to learn from you too! If you are interested in learning more, please call our research team at 401-793-8687.