LEAP lowers health risk

Photo of LEAP lasagna night event

Photo by Stephanie Polizzi

Heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, obesity and arthritis are all preventable forms of chronic disease. Diet and lifestyle contribute to—or prevent—these conditions.

LEAP (Lifestyle Eating Activity Progress) is a 30-day, community lifestyle management program created and delivered by OSU Extension Family & Community Health faculty and volunteers for residents in Coos and Curry Counties, two counties at the bottom of Oregon’s health rankings.

The gold standard of lifestyle management programs—referred to as CHIP—was developed and tested by Dr. Hans Diehl of Loma Linda Lifestyle Medicine Institute beginning in 1986. LEAP achieved similar results as CHIP at a greatly reduced cost—46 percent less—making it more affordable for lower resourced individuals. After two pilots programs, LEAP was offered in Bandon, Ore., in June 2015, to 19 participants.

The LEAP immersion lifestyle management program provides participants with the knowledge and skills to purchase, store, prepare and consume the types of foods that can prevent, or reverse, chronic diseases over their lifetime.

LEAP is built around plant-based meals, science-based nutrition education sessions, and includes pre-and post-health screenings. In just 30 days, participants saw the results of their actions, which encouraged them to continue on the path of healthy eating for optimal health.

All participants showed significant improvement in at least one health risk factor, with most reducing four or more. The greatest results were seen in those with the highest risk, including three that decreased or eliminated medications for blood sugars, blood pressure and/or cholesterol. One participant even boasted about a sprained elbow caused while playing basketball, a sport he thought he would never enjoy again after the heart attack he suffered before attending LEAP.

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