Building Healthy Families offers weight loss program in Broken Bow, McCook

Kate Heelan Demonstration Kitchen
UNK’s Building Healthy Families program aims to teach families how to incorporate healthy behaviors into their lives. The program focuses on rural communities in Nebraska. “Rural communities may not have access to dietitians or behavioral psychologists,” said Kate Heelan, professor of kinesiology and sport sciences. “If you have a family with an obese child, where are they going to get the help?”

By SARA GIBONEY
UNK Communications

KEARNEY – The University of Nebraska at Kearney’s Building Healthy Families Program is expanding to Broken Bow and McCook.

The program recently received a nearly $100,000 grant from the Rural Futures Institute at the University of Nebraska.

Building Healthy Families aims to teach families how to incorporate healthy behaviors into their lives.

The 12-week program is designed for families of overweight children. Family members are assessed for body fat, blood pressure, fitness and overall health status when they begin the program. Families meet with experts once a week – from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Mondays – to learn about nutrition, physical activity and lifestyle modifications. Families also participate in physical activity games.

“Rural communities may not have access to dietitians or behavioral psychologists,” said Kate Heelan, UNK professor of kinesiology and sport sciences. “If you have a family with an obese child, where are they going to get the help?”

Obese children who have completed the program lost an average of five percent of their body mass, and adults averaged a 14-pound weight loss during the 12-week program.

Families in Broken Bow and McCook will use distance education technology to connect with the experts in Kearney. Each location will have a facilitator and physical activity coordinator.

“The benefit is that they still get the experts for the education components,” Heelan said. “But they don’t have to travel.”

Programs will take place at McCook Junior High School and Mid-Plains Community College in Broken Bow.

“Our big initiative is to reach greater Nebraska residents,” Heelan said. “This provides more opportunities for rural communities.”

Building Healthy Families begins March 1, 2016.

Informational meetings will take place at 6 p.m. Feb. 15 at UNK, McCook Junior High School and Mid-Plains Community College. Registration is required by Feb. 1. To register, call 308.865.8336 or visit www.unk.edu/bhf.

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Source: Kate Heelan, 308.865.8180, heelanka@unk.edu
Writer: Sara Giboney, 308.865.8529, giboneys2@unk.edu

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