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Programs

Health and Nutrition Programs

Healthy Steps to Freedom

Alcohol and drug addiction are serious, chronic and relapsing health problems for both women and men of all ages and backgrounds. Leading to physical and mental health problems, substance abuse often precipitates violence, sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancy, motor vehicle crashes, homelessness, rising health care costs and obesity.

Healthy Steps to Freedom (HSF) targets women and girls in substance abuse settings especially those who find weight issues to be prevalent in their drug use and/or recovery treatment. HSF teaches nutrition, exercise and body acceptance as an alternative approach for losing weight and increasing energy. Participants learn about exercise; nutrition; strength activities; calcium intake; and educational programs which address body image disturbances, eating disorders and other poor lifestyle practices.

Issue:

More than half of clients in treatment for methamphetamine, cocaine and other stimulants are women. Research indicates that women primarily use meth to lose weight and increase energy. Although women sometimes lose a significant amount of weight during their drug use, much of the weight loss is attributed to loss of muscle, bone mass, other vital body tissues and dehydration. They may also experience hair and teeth loss, numerous health problems and ruined relationships with family and friends. In addition, women often experience rapid, unwanted weight gain when they stop using drugs. The fear of gaining this added weight can lure many back to using stimulant-type drugs, which are known to have quick weight loss effects.

Many women gain a significant amount of weight while in mental health treatment, due to physical inactivity, poor nutrition and/or prescription medication. These women often feel hopeless, being unable to control their weight, which can worsen their mental health status. Some individuals even stop taking prescription medication because of the negative side effects (e.g., weight gain, lethargy).

What Has Been Done:

More than 60 HSF sessions have been conducted since its inception in February 2007. In this time, about 5,100 contacts (to over 500 participants) have been made. The Healthy Steps to Freedom 12-week program continues to be implemented in substance abuse and mental health recovery centers across Las Vegas (including but limited to: Choices Group, Inc., Las Vegas Indian Center, Las Vegas Rescue Mission, Nevada Homes for Youth, Salvation Army, US Vets and WestCare Nevada — Outpatient Services and Women & Children’s Clinic).

The HSF curriculum manual was published in fall of 2009. This 560-page manual contains lesson plans, instructor notes, weekly personal commitment plans and handouts for participants. Currently, an adolescent version of the HSF curriculum is being developed.

In collaboration with the Center for the Application of Substance Abuse Technologies (CASAT), HSF train-the-trainer (TTT) workshops have been conducted in both Las Vegas and Reno since 2009. These two-day workshops (including continuing education credits) offer substance abuse and mental health care providers important knowledge and resources to help present the HSF curriculum at their treatment facilities.

Impact:

HSF Program participant’s average age is 34 years old. BMI averages about 28.4 (which is categorized as overweight). Similarly, average body fat percentage is 30% (which is classified as concern for unsatisfactory health). About three-fourths of HSF clients have children (average of 1.9 kids per client). For those with children under 18, the average age of the youngest child is 5 years old).

Effectiveness of HSF on Health, Body Dissatisfaction, Thin-ideal Internalization, Eating pathology and Weight Concerns:

After program participation, clients reported:

  • Increased health and nutrition knowledge
  • Increased positive health and nutrition behaviors
  • Decreased thin-ideals set by society on women
  • Decreased body dissatisfaction
  • Decreased disordered eating symptoms
  • Increased ideal weight goals
  • Decreased concern that gaining weight may trigger drug-use relapse
  • Decreased concern about using drugs to lose weight after leaving treatment

With a demonstrated increase in health knowledge and positive health behavior change along with reductions in eating attitudes, negative body shape and less thin-ideal internalization, attrition rates are likely to be higher and hopefully drug relapses will be diminished. After program participation, clients have the skills to improve dietary practices and family meal planning, physical activity, healthy bodies and body image satisfaction. These newly learned lifestyle behaviors, exemplified in the home, have a direct impact on child health and obesity.

Partners:
  • CARE Coalition
  • Center for the Application of Substance Abuse Technologies (CASAT)
  • Substance Abuse & Mental Health Treatment Facilities (Choices Group, Inc., Las Vegas Indian Center, Las Vegas Rescue Mission, Nevada Homes for Youth, Salvation Army and WestCare Nevada)
  • University of Nevada, Las Vegas — Department of Psychology
  • University of Nevada, Reno — School of Community Health Sciences

More: Healthy Steps To Freedom: A Health & Body Image Curriculum For Use In Substance Abuse Programs For Women

Printable Program Impact

Health and Nutrition Programs

Programs Program Information

All 4 Kids

The University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s (UNCE) All 4 Kids: Healthy, Happy, Active, Fit program is an interdisciplinary approach to addressing child obesity. Developed by UNCE faculty from maternal/child nutrition, exercise physiology and child development, the All 4 Kids program helps children meet the Nevada Pre-Kindergarten (Pre-K) Standards while encouraging preschool children and families to practice healthy eating habits and be active every day.

An Apple A Day

Calcium, It’s not Just Milk

The Calcium, It’s Not Just Milk program’s focus is to increase awareness, knowledge and skills among the target audience (11- to 14-year-old middle school students) related to increasing consumption of calcium-rich foods. These efforts have been promoted through classroom lessons and hands-on activities with the assistance and support of school district administrators and teachers.

Chefs for Kids

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension (UNCE) collaborated with the American Culinary Federation (ACF) Chefs of Las Vegas to develop nutrition education curricula that promote health practices engendering lifelong, healthy lifestyles in children. These practices can lower risk for heart disease and other chronic diseases. Chefs for Kids is an in-school nutrition education program for primary grade children in at-risk elementary schools in Clark and Washoe counties in Nevada. The program consists of two parts: an intensive, second-grade curriculum (Choose Well, Be Well) and a video curriculum (Adventures with Chefs for Kids) aimed at first-graders. The first-grade curriculum introduces the food groups to children and focuses on food for strength, growth, health and energy. The weekly second-grade program helps children choose foods that will give the greatest benefit to their bodies, as well as on physical activity and food safety practices.

Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP)

The mission of Nevada’s Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) is to assist families with limited financial resources. Through educational support and experiential learning, the families acquire knowledge, skills, attitudes and changed behavior to improve their nutritional and health status in order to prevent chronic disease and enhance family well-being. Practical application allows learners to see the relevance of information to their daily lives.

Food Safety Project

Grow Yourself Healthy

Healthy Eating Active Living: Mapping Attributes using Participatory Photographic Surveys (HEAL MAPPS)

Healthy Eating Active Living: Mapping Attributes using Participatory Photographic Surveys (HEAL MAPPS) is a compilation of evidence-based engagement and assessment tools that is used to audit and map community environmental features that support and/or hinder healthful eating and physical activity among community members. The MAPPS method integrates photography, participatory community mapping using global positioning system (GPS) technology, and residents’ voiced perceptions of their community. HEAL MAPPS engages people in community-based participatory research to document attributes of the rural community environment that are perceived by residents as obesity preventing or promoting and assess the local resources and readiness to implement community-level obesity prevention strategies to prevent unhealthy weight gain/overweight and obesity among children and their families.

Healthy Eating on a Budget

Objective:

Healthy Steps to Freedom

Alcohol and drug addiction are serious, chronic and relapsing health problems for both women and men of all ages and backgrounds. Leading to physical and mental health problems, substance abuse often precipitates violence, sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancy, motor vehicle crashes, homelessness, rising health care costs and obesity.

Nevada Radon Education Program

The Nevada Radon Education Program is a partnership with the Nevada State Health Division to educate Nevadans about the possible health risk posed by elevated levels of radon in the home. University of Nevada Cooperative Extension (UNCE) offers literature, educational programs and radon test kits in many county Extension offices.

Nutrition Basics

Small Steps 4 Big Changes

Parent involvement is recognized as a key factor in making wise food selections and shaping food and health behavior attitudes that affect the child’s habits and food preferences. Conducted in partnership with the 4-H Youth Development Program, a series of ten nutrition lessons incorporate recipe preparation, food sampling and physical activity segments, with additional nutrition education content for the parent or adult caregiver. All lesson segments are focused on thriving within a limited budget, as well as increasing fruit and vegetable intake. This program has been successfully offered to five Reno Housing Authority (RHA) and other 4-H After School Program sites since the initial launch of the pilot program. The program fosters behavior changes identified by the Centers for Disease Control as being linked to childhood obesity prevention.

Team Nutrition “Smart Choices”

This program strives to address the public health issue of childhood obesity through building basic skills related to food selection and promoting an increased variety of nutritious foods consumed especially vegetables and fruits.

Veggies for Kids

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s (UNCE) Veggies for Kids program takes a proactive approach toward eating and experiencing different kinds of vegetables for American Indian children at a young age.