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Odyssey House Launches CHEF with Aetna Grant

Odyssey House will be developing a new health and wellness initiative called the Creating Healthy Eating Families (CHEF) curriculum through a $25,000 grant from Aetna. The new program will provide hands-on nutrition and cooking classes for mothers living with their children in the Odyssey House Family Centers. The grant will allow Odyssey House to focus on improving the basic nutrition and eating habits of mothers and children, including crafting individual obesity prevention plans to establish goals in the areas of food selection, eating behaviors and frequency of exercise.

Odyssey House treats women identified as being the most at-risk of obesity and developing obesity-related health problems. Most women in our programs are 20-34 years old (the age range that has the fastest growing rate of obesity), mostly ill-educated, and come from impoverished families and communities. Among women, the age-adjusted prevalence of obesity in racial and ethnic groups is higher among African-American and Hispanic women than other groups. More than 90 percent of the approximately 200 women in the Odyssey House Family Centers come from these two groups.

In addition to the documented racial disparity, minimal healthy food options in lower socioeconomic neighborhoods, poverty, excessive postpartum weight retention, and recovery from substance abuse, all contribute to increased risk of obesity. The CHEF program will promote behaviors to improve diet and exercise.

“This is the third grant awarded to Odyssey House by Aetna, and the second to incorporate diet and exercise among our treatment population,” said Odyssey House President Dr. Peter Provet. “With obesity among the top public health concerns facing today’s children, programs such as Odyssey House, where families live with us for several months, offer a unique opportunity to educate parents on the importance of choosing healthy foods for their families.”

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