A Better Weigh: MDHHS Dir. Nick Lyon promots efforts to build healthy communities

A Better Weigh: MDHHS Dir. Nick Lyon promots efforts to build healthy communities
COMMENTARY by Nick Lyon, Director, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services

Improving Michigan’s health is a top priority for Governor Rick Snyder, which is why he created the Michigan Health and Wellness 4 x 4 plan. The plan lays out strategies for reducing obesity and improving health and wellness.

As director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, I am proud to partner with the Building Healthy Communities program to address childhood obesity. This evidence-based program is a private-public initiative designed to fight obesity and improve childhood health through school-based wellness programming.

Building Healthy Communities focuses on creating healthier school environments. It provides students, teachers and administrators critical support, curriculum, resources and equipment to help children establish healthy eating and physical activity habits that will continue on through adulthood.

Preventing childhood obesity is an important first step in preventing many serious health issues that impact adults, including obesity, cancer and chronic conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and hypertension. By building lifelong attitudes and behaviors that support health and well-being early, we are investing in a healthier tomorrow.

Childhood obesity is a real problem in Michigan. More than 32 percent of children in the state are overweight or obese, compared to the national average of 31.3 percent. And the cost of obesity isn’t just on health alone – it is estimated to cost the U.S. health care system over $190 billion every year.

Building Healthy Communities has options available for K-12 public and private schools. Since 2009, the program has reached more than 100,000 students in 275 Michigan schools. This school year, the program will expand to reach students at more than 100 additional schools.

As progress continues, TheHUB (formerly TheWEIGH) is following students in two Building Healthy Communities elementary schools. This is an exciting opportunity to show the program in action and the benefits to the participating students and schools. I appreciate their work to highlight the program and its elements, as well as the great work the schools are doing.

Thank you to our Building Health Communities partners and TheHUB team for promoting this program and reinforcing the message that by giving children the opportunity to make healthy choices, we can build a healthier Michigan.

Lead photo by Paul Engstrom



Building Healthy Communities (BHC) has been around for more than half a decade, helping to shape healthy school cultures across Michigan.

BHC, a statewide collaborative effort (founded by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan), provides the tools a school needs to set goals for increased physical activity and dietary education. The program receives added support from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Michigan Fitness Foundation, United Dairy Industry of Michigan, University of Michigan and Wayne State University’s Center for School Health.




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