In this special issue of Health Affairs, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) grantees present findings from research studies on childhood obesity and explore solutions for addressing the epidemic that threatens the well-being of almost one-third of America's children. Their findings cover issues such as policy regulations and changes, food marketing, behavioral modifications, and the overall impact that chronic conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, will have on the current and future U.S. health care system.
Susan Dentzer, editor of Health Affairs writes, "Kids are becoming obese or overweight at the ripe old age of four, meaning that they are already predisposed to shorter, sicker lives from diabetes, heart problems, even certain types of cancer...what is this crisis if not some national form of child abuse?"
The good news is that we are starting to hear success stories from states who are becoming more innovative and proactive in how they address this national epidemic. Read about the states of Delaware and Pennsylvania, who discuss how they are tackling the issue of childhood obesity. Delaware's statewide initiative has halted the increase of obesity and overweight prevalence among children by educating them to the benefits of healthy eating and increased physical activity. The state of Pennsylvania has funded 74 fresh food outlets through their Fresh Food Financing Initiative, which has provided access to fresh food for nearly 500,000 children and adults.
The theme that carries across all these studies if we are to reverse this growing epidemic, is the need for a comprehensive, coordinated strategy that includes changes in policy; food marketing practices; and individuals taking greater responsibility for their behaviors.