Obesity is a significant problem in the Arkansas Delta. Setting and prioritizing goals are the next steps as St. Francis County moves forward in its participation in the Arkansas Delta Region Obesity Project, or ArDROP.
Tyler Brown, extension regional program associate for obesity reduction for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said members of the project recently met to identify strategies for moving it forward. The group is scheduled to meet again in Forrest City on April 9 to identify priorities and what are known as SMART goals.
SMART is an acronym, standing for “specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.” This includes short-, mid-, and long-term goals. Participation in ArDROP is a five-year commitment that runs through September 2023.
Location and time for the April 9 meeting have yet to be set.
“Setting goals that meet those criteria is really critical for the success of any project,” Brown said. “It doesn’t just apply to individual efforts, but also to larger regional efforts such as ArDROP. “Our aim is to make these changes sustainable. We don’t want to create change for the sake of creating change, but to get participants – both individual and community wide – on the road to making healthy living stick for the long term.”
ArDROP is a cooperative agreement with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to address obesity rates in St. Francis and four other Arkansas counties: Chicot, Lee, Mississippi and Phillips.
The Cooperative Extension Service, through its Family and Consumer Science section, delivers health and nutrition education, exercise and stress management programs, as well as personal finance information to help individuals and families live more healthy lives.
The CDC selected these counties because they all have adult obesity rates of more than 40%. The project is meant to improve health and quality of life.
ArDROP focuses on increasing access to healthy food and physical activity opportunities. It’s a community-wide effort with the support of local governments and the Cooperative Extension Service. ArDROP’s work with the CDC will continue through September 2023.