Let’s Go! uses evidence-based strategies to promote policies and environmental changes that make it easier for people to live healthy, active lives. We track strategy implementation through annual surveys with our participating sites, and monitor obesity rates and behavior data through the Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey (MIYHS), a state survey given to school children every other year. In addition, we monitor awareness and knowledge of the program through an annual family member survey.
The Let’s Go! multi-setting model engages schools, out-of-school programs, early care and education programs, and health care practices to reach families where they live, learn, work, and play to reinforce the importance of healthy living. The program is based on the premise that if children and families are exposed to the same health message in multiple places across their community, and if those places have policies and environments that support healthy choices, children and families will be more likely to adopt or maintain the behaviors in their daily lives.
Thanks to a strong partnership with the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, more communities are partnering with Let’s Go!, environments are changing, and Let’s Go!’s healthy eating and active living strategies are being adopted in more places. In 2019, Let’s Go! programs reached nearly 240,000 children and youth and over 170,000 adults. More than 22,000 staff helped implement Let’s Go! strategies at over 1,300 sites.
In a 2019 survey with 2,235 family members, 8 in 10 parents (83%) who heard of Let’s Go! said that partnering with Let’s Go! adds value to the school or program their child attends. Our 2019 annual survey showed that 770 schools, early care and education programs, and out-of-school programs limited sugary drinks and 783 provided opportunities for physical activity daily; 690 sites limited unhealthy choices for snacks and celebrations; 680 limited recreational screen time; and 690 prohibited using food as a reward. In the health care setting, 846 clinicians used Let’s Go!’s Healthy Habits Questionnaire to talk to patients and families about healthy eating and active living. The number of Let’s Go! sites implementing the strategies mentioned above increased dramatically from 2015 to 2019, between 65% and 73% for each of the strategies.
An analysis of 2013 and 2015 MIYHS data showed that Let’s Go! schools had a significantly higher percentage of students eating five or more fruits and vegetables daily. From 2015 to 2017, MIYHS data showed a significant increase statewide for students in grades 7-12 not drinking any sugary beverages. No significant changes were observed in students’ daily consumption of fruits and vegetables, screen time usage, or physical activity.
Let’s Go! is working to decrease childhood obesity, one healthy choice at a time. Since 2006, the 5-2-1-0 program has focused on creating healthier classrooms, cafeterias, child care programs and out-of-school programs. Health care practices do their part by encouraging their patients to choose those healthy choices every day. All this hard work is paying off! According to MIYHS data, the prevalence of obesity decreased significantly in 2017 for students in grade 3 and trended down for students in grade 5.