Background

Let’s Go!, a Maine-based obesity prevention program, uses evidence-based strategies to promote policy and environmental changes that facilitate healthy eating and active living (HEAL). The program deploys consistent messaging across multiple settings including schools, child care programs, out-of-school programs, and healthcare practices to encourage healthy behaviors.

Methods

Dissemination Partners are the backbone organizations that connect and support Let’s Go!’s work in communities. Partners provide training and resources to site-level champions. Champions implement recommended strategies that promote healthy habits. Let’s Go! tracks strategy implementation through annual surveys, and monitors obesity prevalence and behavior data through the Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey (MIYHS), administered biennially in odd-numbered years.

Results

In 2017-2018, Let’s Go! operated in 265 municipalities across Maine’s 16 counties and one New Hampshire county reaching over 240,000 youth and over 100,000 adults in collaboration with 1,333 sites. Survey response was 89%. Results were positive—80% of schools and programs limited unhealthy choices for snacks and celebrations; 90% limited sugary beverages and promoted water; 87% prohibited using food as a reward; and 90% provided opportunities for physical activity daily (n=777). 739 clinicians used Let’s Go!’s Healthy Habits Questionnaire with pediatric or adult patients to initiate conversations around HEAL. 2017 MIYHS results indicated decreases in sugary beverage consumption and decreases in obesity for some age groups.

Conclusions

Let’s Go! offers a pathway for disseminating evidence-based HEAL recommendations across communities. Evidence points to changing policies and creating environments to support healthy choices as instrumental in the stabilization and reduction of obesity prevalence.