Press Releases

Leaders from Across the Country Gather to Address Childhood Obesity

For Immediate Release                
Contact: Andrew Sousa                  
(202) 265-5112        
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

September 8, 2011

Leaders from Across the Country Gather to Address Childhood Obesity

Summit will offer strategies for preventing obesity on a budget; four policymakers to be honored for exceptional leadership

Twitter Lead: Leaders address #obesity #prevention, #economy @RJWF @LHCommunities #LHCObesitySummit in #WDC #DC http://tinyurl.com/lhcsummit

WASHINGTON – As leaders in Congress and statehouses nationwide make tough choices about the economic future of our country, more than 200 elected and appointed officials and other policy leaders from across the nation will convene in our nation’s capital for the 2011 Leadership for Healthy Communities Childhood Obesity Prevention Summit. Representing states, schools and localities nationwide, participants will address the significant social and economic benefits of preventing and reducing childhood obesity, and the importance of making it a policy priority in challenging economic times. Full summit agenda: http://tinyurl.com/lhcsummit

Last week, President Barack Obama proclaimed September 2011 as National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, calling childhood obesity “one of the most urgent health issues we face in this country.” Nearly one-third of children and adolescents and more than two-thirds of adults in the United States are overweight or obese. In addition to its serious its serious health consequences, childhood obesity has real economic costs that affect all of us. Childhood obesity costs an estimated $14 billion per year in medical care alone, and the cost of adult obesity is estimated to be as high as $147 billion each year.

“The need for action is clear.  We can improve the health of our nation’s children and help strengthen our economy by addressing a root cause of rising health care costs: the childhood obesity epidemic,” said Dwayne Proctor, Ph.D., director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s childhood obesity team. “We need to work together to create and support healthy schools, healthy communities and healthy children.”

Leadership for Healthy Communities is a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that works in collaboration with seven of the nation’s most prominent policymaker groups: the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, the National Association of County and City Health Officials; the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund; the National Association of State Boards of Education; the National Conference of State Legislatures; the National Congress of American Indians; and the National League of Cities Institute for Youth, Education & Families.

At this year’s summit, Leadership for Healthy Communities will release Obesity Prevention on a Budget: Low- and No-cost Policy Options to Increase Healthy Eating and Active Living, a toolkit to support policymakers who want to address obesity in communities and states with limited budgets.  The toolkit outlines budget-conscious policy approaches that leverage existing resources and partnerships to reduce obesity rates by increasing opportunities for healthy eating and physical activity. 

In addition, four policymakers will receive the Leadership for Healthy Communities Award at the summit.  The honorees were chosen from more than 20 nominees who are implementing innovative policy approaches to help prevent and reduce childhood obesity in their communities.

“These policymakers demonstrate a commitment to finding creative ways to improve the health of our nation’s children, families and communities,” said Maya Rockeymoore, Ph.D., director of Leadership for Healthy Communities. “We are proud to showcase their impressive work to promote active living, healthy eating and access to healthy foods in our communities.”


The Leadership for Healthy Communities Award honorees and descriptions of their achievements:

  • Councilmember Mary Cheh’s leadership helped Washington, D.C., to create standards for school foods and increase daily physical activity requirements for students. By utilizing public-private partnerships to attract and renovate grocery stores, Cheh also is working to increase lower-income neighborhoods’ access to healthy foods.
  • In Oakland, Board of Education President David Kakishiba helped the City of Oakland protect and expand funding for children and youth services, and generate more than $10 million each year for children’s services without raising taxes. Kakishiba also leads Oakland FRESH, a public-private partnership that has established 12 Oakland FRESH school produce markets – with 13 more in the works – that provide direct access to high-quality fresh foods in neighborhoods with no nearby supermarkets. 
  • In Colorado, State Representative Tom Massey has demonstrated great leadership in the area of health and wellness for children and families.  Recognizing the close connection between physical activity and improved academic achievement, higher rates of attendance at school and better student engagement, he led efforts to require school districts to set aside a minimum of 30 minutes a day for physical activity for students in elementary school.
  • Also in Colorado, State Representative Rhonda Fields has proved that independent, community-driven leaders can make a difference in positively impacting the lives of children and their families.  She joined Rep. Massey in leading efforts to require school districts to set aside a minimum of 30 minutes a day for physical activity for students in elementary school.


Leadership for Healthy Communities is a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation designed to support local and state government leaders nationwide in their efforts to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic through public policies that promote active living, healthy eating and access to healthy foods. For more information, visit www.leadershipforhealthycommunities.org.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health and health care, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, measureable and timely change.  For nearly 40 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime. For more information, visit www.rwjf.org.


###

Click here to download this press release.

Leadership for Healthy Communities is a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation