Decreasing the prevalence of obesity among adolescent children in Mississippi requires focusing on the key risk factors and correcting them through behavior modification, decreasing caloric intake, increasing physical activity, and educational programs.

There is a strong need for more prevention at a very young age, since an obese child will probably become an obese adolescent, and ultimately, an obese adult. However, if overweight/obesity or the risk of it is already present, then appropriate intervention should be readily available for the age group to prevent further weight gain as well as onset of hypertension, and dyslipidemia in adolescent population.

The Youth, Family, Nutrition and Health, Fitness and Wellness Planned Program will utilized a integrated approach to address relevant issues facing youth and families. Stakeholders from our environmental scanning processes led to the integration of three planned programs into one.

The identified a need for the Alcorn State University Extension Program (ASUEP) to aid youth in resisting risky behaviors such as: tobacco use, high rates of teen pregnancy and infection rate of sexually transmitted diseases, increase dropout rates and juvenile delinquency and lack of recreation activities as relevant issues facing youth in the state.

Also, other issues identified were the lack of skills that youth possess to enter in leadership roles and opportunities in schools and communities; lack of job preparedness/readiness and career and business development An area of the planned program with focus on youth at risk by exploring methods to provide support systems to aid youth in resisting risky behaviors such as teen pregnancy, STD’s and tobacco use, dropouts, alcohol and drug abuse, juvenile delinquency, etc.

Educational programs will develop negotiation, decision making and coping skills of youth to resist risky behaviors. Also, club development/volunteer management to facilitate the organizing and managing of community and school based clubs will be implemented.

First, volunteers will be trained to work with youth in clubs to provide variety of educational, cultural and citizenship opportunities. Youth leadership will be another emphasis of the program to enhance leadership competencies and the necessary personal, social and cognitive skills to become leaders in school and communities.

Second, an emphasis will be on increasing limited-resource youth participation in leadership opportunities. Another focused area of youth development is on career development/workforce preparedness to develop job readiness skills to assist youth in the job searches and increased awareness of career options and youth business opportunities.

Three, the planned program will emphasize many issues facing the “family”, educational programs will implemented on providing an understanding of the social, cognitive, emotional, and physical development of children and families. Providing educational programs on Sudden Infant Death, Shaking Baby Syndrome, and other educational program empower parents with the knowledge to provide quality learning environments for children. Creating healthy families will consist of developing parenting skills and quality child care and afterschool programs that promote quality learning environments.

Family Resource Management will, also, be emphasized exploring strategies to assist youth and adults in families to obtain and managing money and financial resources effectively to meet present needs and future goals. Our stakeholders also identified the lack of parenting and money management skills; the lack of child care training and facilities and high rate of obesity among children, youth and adults.

Another area of the planned program focuses on Nutrition, Health, Fitness Wellness and Obesity programs to provide information about nutrition, health lifestyles and physical fitness. Current trends in obesity among African-American children, youth and adults remains the highest among all ethnic groups in Mississippi. Since obesity starts early in childhood and extends into the adolescent years and possibly into adulthood, intervention and or prevention strategies are necessary to addressing this issue.

Nutrition behavior modification with healthy eating and increased physical activity are contributing factors to the prevention and management of obesity in all population groups. Also, research conducted will be translated into practical application and disseminating on nutrition, health, physical fitness, wellness and obesity for youth and families in communities.

Knowledge Areas

  • Nutrition Education and Behavior
  • Healthy Lifestyle
  • Individual and Family Resource Management
  • Human Development and Family Well-Being
  • Youth Development