Boone County health and fitness program looks to expand after successful tenure

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COLUMBIA – One Boone County fitness and lifestyle program is looking to grow following a successful three-year tenure.

Columbia and Boone County Public Health and Human Services’ 1-2-3-4-5 Fit-Tastic Program, which originated in Kansas City, has seen over 300 families come through their program in three years. Maureen Coy, health educator at Boone County Public Health, said families received free health assessments and resources through Boone County’s Women’s, Infants and Children, or WIC, division.

“The Fit-Tastic program is a messaging program for a healthy lifestyle,” Coy said. “It was a social support and a behavioral support program where we would call them monthly based on some goals that they would set up on one or two of the five behaviors.”

The program consists of selecting one, or two, of five lifestyle assessment categories to improve. The daily goals include at least one hour of exercise, a maximum of two hours of screen time, three servings of low-fat dairy products, at least four servings of water or five servings of fruits and vegetables. In Boone County, 91 percent of families said they improved at least one of five Fit-Tastic healthy habits, according to a Fit-Tastic Columbia Government website information page.

The program was set to fulfill a three-year term with the division. Now, Coy says the program will be moving on from WIC and it’s free services due to overwhelming time constraints, but Fit-Tastic will continue to grow.

“Going forward, we are going to work more now with physicians and the clinics in the community that are already a part of the Fit-Tastic program,” Coy noted. “[These Physicians and partners] are asking these same questions, doing these healthy weight assessments and making goals and plans with those families around improving one or two of the healthy habits.”

Jennifer Elms, a Fit-Tastic program participant at WIC, said the program helped change more than just her child’s life.

“With this program, we feel like it was successful because all of the things… that they showed us, we are still implementing at home,” Elms said. “When you work with the whole family, you’re actually changing the lifestyle of the parents along with the children.”

Elms hopes that, despite the loss of the WIC branch of the program, families will still be able to experience the success of the program.

“It makes me kind of sad. I think a lot of families will benefit from it in the future,” Elms said. “I’m glad to know that they can still [participate in the program] through physicians.”

The physicians partnered with the Fit-Tastic program understand the benefits associated with a healthy lifestyle change. Dr. Amy Williams of MU Family Health Care says participation in the program has been both fun and beneficial.

“It’s been really fun for us as providers to get to interact with the kids and families in that way,” Dr. Williams said. “I think it’s been wonderful. I’ve gotten great feedback and interactions from the families that I’ve worked with.”

The program’s end goal, however, is one synonymous with that of the rest of the United States of America.

“Ultimately our goal is to try to reduce childhood obesity,” Dr. Williams said. “As providers, this is one of the most important things that we do is try to set these healthy behaviors early, so any way that we can facilitate that conversation is important to us.”