HEAL Partner Spotlight

Regina Flynn, Program Manager for the New Hampshire Division of Public Health Services, Obesity Prevention Program (OPP) and New Hampshire Comprehensive Cancer Collaboration (NH CCC) Primary Prevention work group member, has been bridging the gap between obesity and cancer for the past four years. The OPP worked hand in hand with the Foundation for Healthy Communities to align the objectives in the HEAL (Healthy Eating Active Living) Plan with the primary prevention priorities in the NH Cancer Plan with a focus on policy to improve nutrition, rates of breastfeeding and physical activity, using an environmental and systems change approach so that the places where we live, learn, and play provide opportunities for healthy eating and physical activity. The link between obesity and cancer are the focus of this collaboration and herein lays the value. Elements in the Plan focus on population based interventions versus individual focused behavior changes.

The OPP is funded by CDC to implement the HEAL plan. This is done in a variety of ways, for example, OPP provides technical assistance to the Foundation's local HEAL grantees, serves on the HEAL evaluation committee, and conducts and disseminates surveillance data related to obesity. All of the prior and current HEAL grantee communities have worked on obesity initiatives that are directly related to the Cancer Plan's Primary Prevention Objectives 5 through 13. OPP has specifically targeted and funded interventions in child care to support the adoption of policies that promote fruit and vegetable consumption, reduced TV viewing, and increased daily physical activity.

In December of 2011 the NH State Board of Education adopted school nutrition rules (Ed 306.02, 306.04, 306.11) that require each school to select a national nutrition standard for all foods made available outside of the Federal Meals Programs (www.education.nh.gov/standards/documents/advisory21.pdf). The passage of these is a completion of strategies from the CCC Primary Prevention Objectives 6 and 11!

The OPP translates data reports for broader audiences to help inform the public and policy makers about the importance of obesity prevention. An example of this is the Childhood Obesity in New Hampshire report which translated the findings of the Third Grade Healthy Smiles Healthy Growth Survey, which was a partnership between the OPP and the NH Oral Health Program, available at (www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/nhp/documents/childobesityreport2010.pdf).

OPP recently released findings from the first ever NH Municipal Survey, which assessed municipalities using many of the CDC Recommended Community Strategies and Measurements to Prevent Obesity in the United States. This effort was a partnership between OPP and the NH Association of Regional Planning Commissions. (http://www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/nhp/documents/municipalsurvey2011.pdf) . A translated version will released shortly.

In her spare time, Regina takes to road and trails by foot; she is an avid running enthusiast and completed her sixth half-marathon this fall. Her most recent race was the Rochester Runner's Free Fall 5k to benefit Gerry's Food Pantry. She just rescued a Golden Great Pyrenees mix, Finney, to keep her 11 year old Plott Hound, Glory, company. When not on foot, you may see Regina tooling around in her VW Bug – channeling the recently retired CCC Program Director, Karen Bugler.

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