Kate Heelan


As the obesity epidemic continues to grow, a new initiative is launching in Nebraska designed to stop the personal average weight gain of one to three pounds per year, and to reduce the health risks associated with being overweight.

Nebraska On the Move (NOM) is an innovative, grassroots initiative that provides simple tools to increase physical activity and decrease calorie consumption by providing step counters and informational materials to both individuals and groups. NOM also coordinates special events throughout the state. Nebraska On the Move encourages participants to “step” towards a healthier lifestyle by walking more and eating more healthfully.

Nebraska On the Move is an Affiliate of America On the Move (AOM), a national initiative launched in July of 2003 that encourages Americans to walk an extra 2000 steps a day and eat 100 fewer calories a day. Based on research conducted by Dr. James Hill, AOM founder and director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado, doing so is enough for most Americans to create a balance between energy expenditure and food consumption. AOM Affiliates strive to build health-promoting communities that support and engage individual behavior changes.

At a ceremony in the Nation’s capitol, government officials endorsed the program and praised Nebraska On the Move for launching this much needed initiative in the state.

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE), who has endorsed the initiative, said: “I’ve used a pedometer to track my physical activity and to step it up a bit in order to improve my overall health. I hope the America On the Move initiative will inspire others to take their own steps toward better health and the greater goal of defeating the obesity epidemic nationwide.”

Events and programs planned for the first year of Nebraska On the Move include participation in Walk Out On Your Job, a national employee health and fitness day scheduled for May 19, and N-Lighten Nebraska, a five-month team wellness program encouraging weight loss and increased physical activity. Outreach to children through a Kids Fitness and Nutrition Day in October and to employees through increased worksite wellness programs also are planned.

Approximately 58 percent of Nebraskan adults are considered to be overweight or obese, according to the Center for Disease Control’s 2001 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. The prevalence of obesity in Nebraska increased 37 percent from 1991 to 2001. The incidence of more than 30 weight-related preventable illnesses also has increased, driving up healthcare costs and reducing workplace productivity. Nebraska spends $454 million annually on obesity- attributable medical expenditures, according to a recent issue of Obesity Research.

“As the prevalence of obesity increases, so does the need for people to start to make serious behavioral changes,” said Dr. Kate Heelan, director of the University of Nebraska at Kearney’s Human Performance Laboratory. “Through Nebraska On the Move, we hope to foster a consistent, clear and concise message regarding the risks of obesity and the mechanisms by which people can adopt a healthy lifestyle. Understanding energy balance and the concepts behind it is central to that goal. Everyone can be successful in Nebraska On the Move if they make a commitment to increasing daily activity and making better food choices.”

Nebraska On the Move joins several other states encouraging residents to move towards a healthier and more active lifestyle. Other America On the Move Affiliates announced today include Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Santa Barbara County, CA, Saratoga County, NY, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia. AOM plans to announce at least eight more Affiliates by August 2004 and have one in every state within the next few years. Affiliates carry out the AOM mission in states and cities across America by encouraging people to participate in AOM programs and events.

The University of Nebraska at Kearney was fundamental in bringing Nebraska On the Move to fruition and is the lead organization supporting and facilitating the initiative. For more information and program updates, visit the Nebraska On the Move Web site at

About America On the Move
America On the Move (AOM) is a nationwide movement dedicated to helping communities across our nation make positive changes to improve the health and quality of life of all their citizens. AOM aims to initiate and maintain meaningful and measurable social, environmental, and individual behavior changes that will serve to support healthy eating and active living habits in our society. AOM is an initiative of the nonprofit organization the Partnership to Promote Healthy Eating and Active Living ( AOM is based on scientific research and is designed to provide education, support and tools to Americans of all ages to encourage them to take just 2000 extra steps each day (the equivalent of about one mile), and eat 100 calories less in order to create a balance between energy expenditure and consumption. For more information, please visit