St. Francis Family Health Care is excited to introduce St. Francis Healthy Lifestyles, a program to decrease chronic health conditions by changes in lifestyles to include diet and physical activity. With more than two-thirds of the nation’s adults and one out of every five children and adolescents being overweight or obese, Healthy Lifestyles is a local, medically-supervised program developed to empower and motivate people of all ages to improve their quality of life through nutrition counseling, education and support of lifestyle changes.
According to Martha Mustion, family nurse practitioner and Healthy Lifestyles staff member, “Excess weight has a big impact on overall health, including increased risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. Fortunately, lifestyle changes including healthy eating patterns, increased physical activity and weight management often improve the risk factors associated with being overweight. “
Along with Mustion, Healthy Lifestyle nurses Debra Hull and Gina Mackey offer two different Healthy Lifestyles programs: one for adults and one for adolescents.
The Healthy Lifestyles program for overweight children and their families involves weekly group educational and activity visits. Sessions are to be attended by at least one parent/guardian and the child. As a group, the goal is to support one another and take the presented education and adapt it to fit the family’s individual needs.
“Our program was adapted from the KU Healthy Hawks pediatric program,” Mustion explained, “and focuses on the positive health consequences of good nutrition and increased physical activity rather than on the child’s weight.”
The adult Healthy Lifestyles Program begins with an initial consultation which includes a metabolic rate analysis. Many dieters use the excuse of decreased metabolism as to why they can’t lose weight. Metabolism is the process by which a body converts what is taken in (food and drink) into energy. Calories from food and beverages are combined with oxygen to release the energy a body needs to function. The number of calories needed to carry out basic functions is known as basal metabolic rate (BMR). Several factors determine an individual’s BMR: body size and composition, sex, and age. A BMR accounts for about 60 to 75 percent of the calories a person burns each day. The other two factors that determine how many calories a body can burn are the amount of food processed and physical activity. Weight gain most commonly occurs as a result of eating more calories than the body burns in a day.
For those in the adult program, a resting metabolic rate analysis is performed using the MedGem analyzer. This small hand-held device is used to determine the amount of oxygen breathed in and the amount of carbon dioxide produced. This is the most efficient way to measure a body’s energy-burning process. The data is fed into a computer program along with information about exercise levels and other lifestyle details. The system provides a report of number of calories, carbs, proteins and fats the person should take in each day depending on the weight loss goal as set by the patient in consultation with the Healthy Lifestyles nurse.
The metabolic rate in conjunction with a review of current health concerns, other medical conditions and risks and benefits of weight loss are used to develop a plan for lifestyle change. Additional visits involve nutritional counseling, direct medical care, and comprehensive patient education. Progress is measured through improved lab results, decreased BMI and weight or inches lost.
“Simple changes in lifestyle can often decrease the long-term effects of excess weight on the body,” Mustion said. “We are dedicated to helping each patient along this journey, and we are here to offer guidance and the necessary support to sustain a long-term lifestyle balance.”
Patients in the St. Francis Healthy Lifestyles program must be referred by their medical provider. For more information or to make an appointment, call St. Francis Family Health Care at (660) 562-2525.