For Professionals: BMI initiative piloted at Magnolia Project

A mother’s health before pregnancy has one of the biggest impacts on birth outcomes. One of the key health indicators that affects pregnancy is overweight and obese BMIs.

In 2010, healthy weight became a focus of the Magnolia Project, a federal Healthy Start project focused on the preconception health of African American women in Jacksonville’s urban core. The Project joined federal programs across the country in a national learning collaborative.

During Phase I of the initiative, staff calculated and documented BMIs for 512 participants. The study showed that the average participant’s BMi was 28.8, which is considered overweight. Thirty-nine percent were normal weight, while 55 percent were overweight or obese.

As a result of the BMI scores, staff developed and adopted BMI protocal and pre- and post-tests. During the second phase, handouts were developed, education was given to women with a BMI over 25, staff promoted participation in the Magnolia Project community garden and patnerwed with the YMCA to promote physical exercise, along with many other steps.

Clients were also sent home with pocket cards with tips like:

  • Don’t skip meals
  • Grill, steam or bake instead of fry
  • Eliminate sweet drinks
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables
  • Drink a glass of water before each meal
  • Take a brisk walk after dinner
  • Take stairs instead of elevator
  • Do sit-ups/squats during TV commercial breaks
  • Bust a move (exercise to your favorite fast tune)
  • Volunteer to work in the Magnolia garden!

Since the conclusion of the pilot, the BMI initiative has become institutionalized within the Project.