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Resource-savvy communities generate healthy, sustainable changes
Date:9/1/2010

COLUMBIA, Mo. As the nation becomes more aware of health issues related to nutrition and lifestyle choices, communities are struggling to find ways to make healthy living easier. The University of Missouri is helping communities turn healthy ideas into sustainable changes through the Healthy Lifestyle Initiative. The initiative, underway at 13 sites in 12 Missouri counties, is aimed at changing environments to increase the availability of affordable, locally produced foods and access to safe physical activities.

The Healthy Lifestyle Initiative (HLI) began by partnering MU Extension specialists with community leaders in four Missouri counties. The MU Extension specialists provided assistance in the areas of agriculture, nutrition and physical activity, and business, community and youth development. Each team recruited a variety of stakeholders, including families, students, agricultural producers and healthcare providers, to develop and implement community plans focused on policy and environmental changes to support healthy lifestyles.

"The goal of HLI is to turn goals and ideas into action by identifying the resources and expertise already in place within communities," said Ann Cohen, HLI co-director and associate state nutrition specialist in the MU College of Human Environmental Sciences. "Initiative leaders work alongside community members, bringing together local resources and university expertise to create sustainable change. The models being developed can be replicated by other communities to combat sedentary lifestyles and related diseases, and foster positive changes and lifelong health."

The four initial counties (Lafayette, Dent, Ralls and Boone), selected in 2008, have seen positive changes. In Lafayette County, schools and local farms are participating in Farm to Cafeteria, a national project that brings locally grown fruit and vegetables into school cafeterias. Chefs with the Bistro
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Contact: Emily Martin
MartinEm@missouri.edu
573-882-3346
University of Missouri-Columbia
Source:Eurekalert  

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