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Healthy Lifestyles to Reduce Obesity

At the 2004 AMA-MSS Annual Meeting in Chicago, the MSS selected Healthy Lifestyles to Reduce Obesity as our National Service Project. Obesity has become the number one preventable cause of death in the U.S. Through community service projects and advocacy efforts, the medical students of this country can have a real and positive effect on the state of health in this nation. Medical students can bring this campaign to many different arenas—schools, homes, workplaces, even the hospitals and clinics that they spend their clinical years in.

The Healthy Lifestyles service project encompasses many different ideas for projects that you can implement at a chapter or state level. Some of those include:

  • Making visits to classrooms to educate children about the dangers of obesity
  • Fitness Forward – a well established program that involves promoting a physically active lifestyle, healthy eating, good sleep, stress management, and general health awareness
  • Junior high Olympics
  • Informational booths at specified function to measure BMI, blood pressure, and to give advice about healthy living
  • Student designed brochures to be handed out at hospitals and clinics that are staffed by medical students
  • “Obesity Screeners” to be set up at student run clinics to measure BMI and to advise patients about their specific risks
  • AMA-MSS cookbook filled with healthy, easy recipes—this could even be used to help individual chapters raise money
  • Promoting health wellness in rural high schools by providing health education and offering real solutions via medical student visits and coordinating visit from local physicians
  • An elementary school “Healthfest” can be arranged with a local school educating children about various health risks and giving advice about healthy lifestyles in a fun and age-appropriate manner
  • PTA and school board initiative advocacy projects can be designed to improve healthy snacks and food options in vending machines, to advocate for increased recess time before lunch time, and many other community service projects
  • 10,000 step relay (~2 miles) targeting patients who are trying to initiate an exercise program
  • Start small, feel better,” a six-week intervention to improve health via community-based centers
  • Weight loss office pools—participants will be challenged to lower their BMI in what has traditionally been a sedentary setting
  • Church forums to improve the health of their members via improved diet and exercise
  • Letter writing campaigns encouraging state legislators to increase physical activity during the school day
  • And many more...

The MSS developed a module that provides details on many of the projects above, including resources utilized and expenses incurred.