CHMI Commitment

imgresThe Extraordinary Living Project is honored to have been selected as a
2014 Commitment Maker to the Clinton Health Matters Initiative

The Freedom Team, with The Extraordinary Living Project, is committed to bringing an interdisciplinary group of professionals, community leaders and allies together to engage, empower and activate a community-based solution to obesity within the African American community in the Greater Metro Denver area.

It is our goal, by integrating the work of Cynthia James’ What Will Set You Free©, along with physical fitness and nutritional guidance, to positively impact the lives of more than 300 women over a three-year period. The lifestyle changes will be closely monitored and measured to create a successful model that can be applied to other communities.

The Clinton Health Matters Initiative (CHMI) works to improve the health and well-being of all people by activating individuals, communities, and organizations to make meaningful contributions to the health of others. The goals of CHMI are to reduce the prevalence of preventable health outcomes, close health inequity and disparity gaps, and reduce health care costs by improving access to key contributors to health for all people.”

The obesity epidemic within African American communities greatly impacts the health and wealth of all communities throughout the United States. Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, which together created an estimated annual medical cost of $147 billion in 2008. These conditions are contributing factors to the decrease in life expectancy among this population, removing them from the work place and taking them out of the home at much earlier ages. These outcomes place increased stress and responsibility on a community that already is under-served and lacking in resources.

Obesity rates for African American women continue to grow at alarming rates, despite the fact that adult obesity rates have leveled off in every state but Arkansas, according to the report, F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2013, Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). In fact, the Office of Minority Health reports that African American women have the highest rates of being overweight or obese compared to other groups. About four out of five African American women are overweight or obese. In 2010, African Americans were 1.4 times as likely to be obese as Non- Hispanic Whites, where 70% were more likely to be obese than Non-Hispanic White women, and in 2007-2010, African American girls were 80% more likely to be overweight than Non-Hispanic White girls.

Both the cause and the solution to this issue are complex. Weight loss is not as easy as “calories in vs. calories burned,” as many believe. Many factors influence weight loss, including variables like genes and diet to socioeconomic status and environment. We believe that the potential “fixes” fall short of addressing the underlying root causes. The data that emerged from the Summit on Obesity in African American Women and Girls (October 2012 at the University of the District of Columbia) sheds light on new, promising approaches to community-based solutions. APA Past-President Suzanne Bennett Johnson, PhD, argued “If we are really going to solve this problem, we are going to have to be on interdisciplinary research teams, we are going to have to partner with community leaders and we are going to have to find allies … every step of the way.”

Johnson’s words eloquently capture the commitment of the Freedom Team, not only to the Clinton Health Matters Initiative, but to the African American women in the inner city neighborhoods of Metro Denver, CO. The Freedom Team is committed to bringing an interdisciplinary team of professionals, community leaders and allies together to engage, empower and activate a community-based solution to obesity.