WHO WE ARE
Leadership for Healthy Communities (LHC) is a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation designed to support local and state government leaders nationwide in their efforts to reduce childhood obesity through public policies that promote active living, healthy eating and access to healthy foods. LHC places special emphasis on promoting policies with the greatest potential for increasing sustainable opportunities for physical activity and healthy eating among children at highest risk for obesity. Efforts funded under this program are expected to contribute to RWJF’s goal of reversing the epidemic of childhood obesity by 2015.
WHY WE DO IT
After decades of increasing obesity rates, we’re starting to see some signs of progress among both children and adults. For example, a recent CDC report shows that obesity rates have dropped among young children from low-income families in many states. These are children who are at high risk for obesity and whose families have the fewest opportunities to make healthy choices, so this is major progress. But we’re far from the finish line when it comes to reversing the epidemic. Progress among children is still early and fragile, and obesity among adults is only just beginning to slow. Rates overall are still much higher than they were a generation ago.
What we’re seeing so far is that communities and states that make strong, far-reaching changes to create a culture of health can achieve success. To that end, LHC works with local and state government leaders because they make important decisions that affect people’s opportunities to eat healthy foods and be physically active within their communities. You might think these daily decisions are only about budgets, laws, regulations or zoning, but they are also about sidewalks, bike trails, playgrounds, recreation centers, school meal programs, neighborhood farmers’ markets and fast-food billboards near schools. LHC helps government leaders make the connection between their policy priorities and decisions and the health of their constituents—and supports them in their efforts to create healthier communities.