Dan River Partnership for Healthy Community receives planning grant from NIH

The Dan River Partnership for Healthy Community (DRPHC) received an R24 planning grant from the National Institutes of Health to conduct the Dan River Region POPS: Partnering for Obesity Planning and Sustainability (POPS) study using a community-based participatory research approach.

The POPS initiative has two main objectives:

  • Intervention testing of a childhood obesity treatment program aimed at reducing BMI z-scores. As guided by the RE-AIM framework, the intervention testing objectives are to determine the potential reach (i.e., proportion of target population and representativeness), effectiveness (i.e., changes in child BMI z-scores over a six-month period), feasibility (i.e., the degree to which the intervention can be adopted, implemented, and sustained as intended) and cost (i.e., resource and staffing costs) of the program.
  • To develop and assess community capacity related to the development, implementation, and sustainability of the childhood obesity treatment program.

Dan River Partnership for Healthy Community

To date, the study has successfully developed an academic and community partnership that includes representatives from Danville Parks and Recreation, Danville/Pittsylvania Health District, Children’s Healthcare Center, and Danville Boys & Girls Club.

The Virginia Tech investigators include Paul Estabrooks, Jamie Zoellner, Jennie Hill, Madlyn Frisard, Wen You, and their graduate students. Using evidence based practices from the Bright Bodies childhood obesity intervention program, the partners have created the iChoose program that is specifically tailored to the needs of the Dan River Region.

The iChoose program is a three-month family-based childhood obesity treatment program that involves six two-hour family sessions, 18 one-hour family exercise sessions, six telephone parent support calls, and six child newsletters. Program eligibility includes youth ages 8-12 years with a BMI greater than or equal to the 85 percentile. iChoose is being pilot tested in three iterative cohort waves in the Dan River Region.

To date we have successfully completed our first wave of families (n=26) and are currently in our second wave of family testing (n=33). Of the 59 involved families, 38 (64.4 percent) are African-American and 47 percent have an annual household income less than $25,000 per year.

Among youth in Wave 1, the child BMI z-scores are trending in the improved hypothesized direction, and are expected to demonstrate a significant improvement as additional families complete the program and data are aggregated for increased statistical power. Additional health indicator measures revealed significant improvements in cholesterol, HDL, and LDL. Children also reported modest reductions in calories from sugar sweetened beverages, modest increases in fruits and vegetables, significant increases in vigorous physical activity, and trended towards reductions in screen time on a typical school day. Acceptability was also evaluated and overall program components were rated as highly usable, informative, and helpful by parents/caregivers.

iChoose is the only childhood obesity treatment program in the Dan River Region. Importantly, local organizations have emerged with clear program implementation and evaluation roles. Danville Parks and Recreation Pittsylvania and Danville Health District are currently leading small group sessions and telephone supports calls. Children’s Healthcare Center and Danville Health District are the two primary referral organizations. Virginia Tech is providing leadership, coordination and communication among the community-based organizations, project and budget management, technical assistance, and evaluation.

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