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California Adolescent Nutrition and Fitness (CANFit) Program

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The California Adolescent Nutrition and Fitness (CANFit) Program is a statewide, non-profit organisation whose mission is to engage communities and build their capacity to improve the nutrition and physical activity status of California's low-income African American, American Indian, Latino, Asian American, and Pacific Islander youth 10-14 years old.
Communication Strategies: 

The main components of CANFit are:

  • Providing training and technical assistance to youth serving organisations, non-profit organisations, funders, government entities, consultants, and others working to improve nutrition and physical activity and prevent obesity in low-income communities of colour. To cite one example, Recipes for Success: Nutrition and Physical Activity Workshop is a 4-hour interactive, hands-on session designed for youth service providers who work with low-income, multi-ethnic youth. The workshop features culturally appropriate nutrition education and physical activities and games that have been tested with adolescent audiences.
  • With direct youth input, developing, evaluating, and disseminating culturally appropriate nutrition and physical activity educational materials and social marketing programmes:
    • P.H.A.T. (Promoting Healthy Activities Together) uses a community-based approach which embraces music, dance, emceeing, and other elements of hip-hop culture (in community centres, schools, after-school programmes) to deliver messages about healthy eating and physical activity. CANFit created a multi-media package to encourage community-based organisations (CBOs) to use hip hop to keep youth active and to educate them about the importance of healthy eating. Each package contains: 1) a video, as well as a DVD, featuring educational messages and a hip-hop dance routine, 2) a music CD that features original tracks, and 3) a 36-page guidebook featuring information, resources, and discussion activities. CANFit also conducts a workshop on P.H.A.T.; participants learn to use hip-hop culture as a strategy to incorporate nutrition education and physical activity into existing programming.
    • An adolescent-focused social marketing campaign called Project R.E.A.L. (Redefining Excellence, Activity, and Leadership) in which Asian American and Pacific Islander adolescents created "digital stories" about healthy eating and physical activity in their communities using technology, photographs, visual art, and other materials from their own lives.
    • Adelante con Leche Semi-descremada 1% Campaign was a bilingual (Spanish/English) community nutrition campaign aiming to motivate Latino youth and their families to switch from drinking whole or 2% milk, to drinking 1% or fat-free milk. The community campaign used paid Hispanic radio, print advertising, and television; milk tastings at local supermarkets, health and medical clinics, middle and elementary schools; and presentations and displays at community events.
    • Resources such as the CANFit Super Manual - designed to enable youth service providers to incorporate nutrition and physical activity into their everyday programming - and the Spanish-language Recetas para el Exito (Recipes for Success) manual, a practical "how-to" guide for those wanting to create a nutrition and physical activity programme for adolescents.
  • Advocating for policies that enhance nutrition and physical activity in after school and community settings by producing working papers, public policy platforms and recommendations, and reports (e.g., "Days of Dialogue: Obesity and Diabetes Prevention in Communities of Color", which summarises a series of "Community Convenings" held across California).
  • Awarding academic scholarships.
  • Funding innovative community-based projects.
Development Issues: 

Health, Nutrition, Adolescents.

Key Points: 

While all racial and ethnic groups in the United States experienced an increase in obesity rates in the last 3 decades, organisers state that communities of colour have experienced the highest and most rapid increases. Among these communities, rates of chronic disease prevalence are higher than national averages and are increasing at accelerated rates. Hence, they explain, there is an increasing need for health promotion programmes that address cultural specificity within the context of California's diverse society; CANFit seeks to meet this need.

Partner Text: 

Funders include The California Endowment, The California Wellness Foundation, Kaiser Permanente, Louis R. Lurie Foundation, and Robert Wood Johnson Community Health Leadership Program.

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