4-Health is parent education program for healthy lifestyle promotion created by Montana State University Extension. The 10 session program focuses on enhancing food and nutrition behaviors, increasing physical activity, promoting positive body image, and parenting and family communication skills related to healthy living.

The 4-Health Program is aimed at promoting healthy lifestyles among Montana youth through a parent education program. The goal of the program is to increase the knowledge and change the behaviors of parents and children in order to promote health and well-being while preventing or reducing the risk of obesity. In order to meet that goal, the educational program focuses on the following objectives:

  • Parents will gain knowledge about how to lead their family to a healthier lifestyle by increasing their knowledge related to active parenting and family communication, food and nutrition, physically active lifestyles, and positive body image.
  • Parents will enhance their skills and roles as positive change agents by working to change their behaviors related to active parenting and family communication, food and nutrition, physically active lifestyles, and positive body image.

The 4-Health Program is an on-going Montana Extension program, consisting of a 10 parent education sessions addressing specific behavior goals for parents to work on with their youth in the home. These behavioral goals include:

  • Food and Nutrition; Choose foods and beverages packed with nutrients, eat meals and snacks regularly, choose food portions appropriate for activity level, increase time when family eats together, practice the principles of normal, healthy eating, and avoid unhealthy weight control practices.
  • Physical Activity; Create an accessible physical environment that promotes an active lifestyle, reduce sedentary time, promote physical activity through family communication, and take advantage of community sites that provide places for physical activity.
  • Positive Body Image; Focus on each individual’s positive traits and capability, encourage size and body acceptance of self and others, understand media and environmental influences on the development of body image, teach and model healthy self-esteem, respect, and confidence.
  • Parenting and Family Communication; Practice good communication skills, provide high levels of love, warmth, and boundaries, advocate for preteens, provide opportunities for preteens to grow and develop an identity.

The ten sessions are outlined in both a Parent Guide for participants, and a Facilitator Guide for instructors, which includes learning objectives, teaching points, PowerPoint slides, videos, and further facilitation information.  Each session includes healthy living information and interactive activities on the topics of enhancing healthy food and nutrition behavior choices, engaging in a physically active lifestyle, promoting positive body image, and practicing active parenting. Goal setting is done at every session and an end of session evaluation tool is provided. In addition to in-session learning, there is a “time for action” section of out-of-session activities for use with preteens and families.  Examples of out-of-session activities include healthy cooking assignments for the preteen and parent to complete together, home environment assessments that look at the family home in terms of how it promotes or inhibits healthy behaviors, a preteen grocery store scavenger hunt and nutrition label reading activity, and options for online activities that engage participants in conversation outside of the session meeting time. Curriculum materials can be viewed and downloaded at the program website, www.4health.org.

For more information about 4-Health, please contact Carrie Benke at 406-994-4351 or carrie.benke@montana.edu