Grant Aids MSU in Health and Wellness Goals

MISSISSIPPI STATE, Miss. – (PRESS RELEASE) Mississippi State is focusing on healthy lifestyles with a new grant to service faculty, staff, students and the Starkville community.

A $250,000 Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation grant is establishing the MSU Health Fitness and Wellness Program to be administered through the university’s kinesiology department to promote fitness, nutrition, smoking cessation, stress management and behavioral change strategies.

Ben Abadie, professor of kinesiology and one of three co-principal investigators for the grant, said the one-year program will begin in August of this year and targets the MSU and Starkville Public School community, as well as the general Starkville community.

He said the program’s effectiveness will be measured in MSU faculty and staff members who elect to participate in pre- and post-assessments pertaining to physical fitness, which includes muscle strength, endurance and flexibility, cardiorespiratory endurance and body composition. In addition to measuring blood pressure, blood analysis including total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and glucose levels will be included in the assessments, as well as a dietary analysis based on self-reporting and behavioral modification strategies.

Educational opportunities to include health fitness and wellness programs and even a camp for children will be implemented, Abadie said. Informational lectures will be available both in person and online.

“We’ll also offer courses concerning nutrition, and you can work with a dietician who can look at your eating habits to help you adopt a healthier nutritional plan, which usually involves cutting down on saturated fats and simple sugars and eating more fruits and vegetables,” he said.

Abadie said the program will enhance ongoing health and wellness efforts the university already has implemented.

Joyce Yates, MSU director of health education and wellness, said the university has been building on a culture that embraces healthy lifestyles over the past several years. A recently completed grant also by the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation last year allowed for a new university walking track around Chadwick Lake adjacent to the Sanderson Center.

“This gives MSU another opportunity to partner with Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation to offer initiatives that create a healthier college community,” Yates said.

“The Sanderson Center offers so many different fitness opportunities, and our campus dining services make healthy choices evident. I think there is more of an intentional desire to be healthy now. Students understand the concept of taking responsibility for your own health, and MSU supports the healthy student with strong initiatives and a lot of useful resources on campus,” Yates said.

She noted that a registered dietician is available to meet with students at no cost.

Diane Tidwell, associate professor of food science, nutrition, and health promotion, is chairing a new university health and wellness committee. Tidwell said the committee is charged with providing a framework for improving the health status of the MSU community through collaborative efforts of health, academics, student affairs and administration to foster healthy environments and behaviors.

Tidwell said the committee also will be promoting campus resources, such as a recently added benefit for state and school employees through ActiveHealth Management, a health management organization that offers informed care management and resources, including a 24-hour nurse line, an enhanced weight management program, and virtual online coaching for a variety of health conditions.

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