Healthiest Weight Florida (HWF) is a public-private collaboration bringing together state agencies, not for profit organizations, businesses, and entire communities to help Florida’s children and adults make choices about healthy eating and active living.
By using evidence-based interventions, the program works to influence the social determinants of health and move Florida toward achieving health equity. HWF engages 67 county health departments and numerous partners at the state and local levels to implement policy, systems, and environmental interventions that improve access to healthy foods and increase opportunities for physical activity. HWF works to create Healthy Places statewide by focusing interventions in birthing facilities, early care and education centers, schools, worksites, communities, and health care settings.
Healthiest Weight Florida (HWF) promotes breastfeeding as an important health activity for mothers and babies. Our goal is to increase the number of birthing facilities working to achieve the 10 Steps to Successful Breastfeeding and working to increase breastfeeding initiation and duration rates. Although birthing facilities provide a unique and critical link between breastfeeding support before and after delivery, it is essential mothers receive support for breastfeeding from their community. HWF prioritizes communities who may not otherwise receive breastfeeding support and education to reduce health inequity and reach women of varying races, ethnicities, and income levels.
Healthiest Weight Florida (HWF) promotes physical activity and nutrition best practices in Early Care and Education (ECE) centers across the state. Most young children spend time in care outside of their home before attending elementary school, making the ECE setting a vital place to start obesity prevention efforts. HWF encourages ECE facilities to achieve recommended standards and utilize best practices for obesity prevention that will change the environment and improve nutrition, breastfeeding support, physical activity, and reduce screen time in the facility. Improving the ECE environment of child care and early education facilities may directly impact what children consume and how active they are, as well as help them develop a foundation of healthy habits for life.
Healthiest Weight Florida (HWF) works with schools and school districts to promote best practices related to physical activity and nutrition. HWF aims to increase the number of school districts recognized as Healthy Districts and to increase the number of elementary schools participating in the Healthier US Schools Challenge: Smarter Lunchroom. Healthy Districts create a strong teaching and learning environment, which includes incorporating physical education and nutrition in the schools. HWF encourages schools to participate in The Healthier US Schools Challenge: Smarter Lunchroom certification, which is a voluntary award program that recognizes excellence in nutrition and physical activity to create healthier school environments for children.
Healthiest Weight Florida (HWF) recognizes that a positive wellness culture in the workplace contributes to an employee’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Having a healthy work environment can lead to increased employee productivity, a decrease in the number of sick days, and lower health-associated costs for the employer.
HWF supports the implementation of evidence-based health promotion interventions or strategies in worksites to prevent heart disease, stroke, and related conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, and obesity. HWF promotes the use of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Worksite Health ScoreCard. The ScoreCard is a tool designed to help employers assess how such evidence-based strategies are implemented in a worksite. Employers can use this tool to determine how a comprehensive health promotion and disease prevention program is offered to their employees, to help identify program gaps, and to prioritize a variety of health topics such as lactation support, stress management, tobacco control, and vaccine-preventable diseases.
Healthiest Weight Florida (HWF) is working in health care settings and with health care providers to promote chronic disease prevention strategies and programs. HWF works to address high blood pressure, heart disease, and associated risk factors by working with county health departments and promoting the implementation of the Million Hearts campaign. To reduce the impact of diabetes and pre-diabetes on Floridians, HWF works to increase referrals to Diabetes Self-Management Education and CDC recognized Diabetes Prevention Programs.
The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University defines toxic stress as a response that can occur when a child experiences strong, frequent, and/or prolonged adversity–such as physical or emotional abuse, chronic neglect, caregiver substance abuse or mental illness, exposure to violence, and/or the accumulated burdens of family economic hardship–without adequate adult support. This kind of prolonged activation of the stress response systems can disrupt the development of brain architecture and other organ systems, and increase the risk for developing chronic disease and cognitive impairment. Healthiest Weight Florida (HWF) is working with Florida State University College of Medicine’s Center for Child Stress and Health to raise awareness and provide resources to health care providers about toxic stress among school-aged children.
Healthiest Weight Florida (HWF) is working to advance health equity by encouraging cities, counties, and community organizations to implement best practices relating to physical activity and nutrition. Local governments can implement a variety of policies that have been shown to increase physical activity and improve nutrition of their citizens.
Healthy Food Access
To advance health equity, HWF is working to increase access to healthy foods. Access to healthy, affordable, and culturally appropriate food is a key component in a healthy, sustainable community.
Health in All Policies
HWF supports communities that take a health in all policies approach as a strategy for addressing the complex factors that influence health and equity. Also referred to as the social determinants of health, this method includes consideration of educational attainment, housing, transportation options, and neighborhood safety when adopting or revising policies.
The built environment is anything constructed, ranging from sidewalks to freeways, tree-lined parking strips to full-fledged parks, and homes to whole communities. HWF recognizes the relationship between the built environment and chronic disease and promotes strategies for healthy community design.
HWF knows the importance of faith-based organizations and the impact they can have on the community. Engaging congregations in wellness activities, physical activity, and healthy eating can be beneficial as a chronic disease prevention strategy. Partnering with faith-based organizations allows HWF to reach diverse populations throughout the state.