An Action Agenda for Schools and Communities to Fight Obesity

Town hall meetings on childhood obesity and related local projects

Dates of Project: November 2006 through May 2010

Field of Work: Childhood obesity, particularly among African American and Latino children

Problem Synopsis: A 2004 Institute of Medicine report found that obesity rates among children in the United States had more than doubled over the past three decades, with African American and Latino children in low-income communities among those at highest risk.

Synopsis of the Work: TV and radio host Tavis Smiley convened town hall meetings on childhood obesity in four U.S. cities in 2006 and 2007 as part of his "Road to Health" tour. A key organization in each city then added childhood obesity to its action agenda and worked to spur local and state efforts to address it.

Key Findings/Results:

  • The Smiley Group convened four town hall meetings on "Eliminating Childhood Obesity: Best Practices for Communities and Schools" in Atlanta, Baltimore, Los Angeles, and Oakland, each attended by some 1,000 people.
  • The Philanthropic Collaborative for a Healthy Georgia, in Atlanta, pursued a statewide strategy to inform policy-makers and residents about the Georgia Youth Fitness Assessment, and trained residents to promote programs and policies that support physical activity and good nutrition among Georgia youth.
  • Associated Black Charities, in Baltimore, working with the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers, developed and pursued an action plan to halt a rise in childhood obesity.
  • The California Center for Public Advocacy, in Los Angeles, worked to ensure that a 10-year downtown development project for Baldwin Park, a majority-Latino city near LA, promoted smart growth, active living, and healthy eating.
  • The East Bay Asian Youth Center, in Oakland, advanced the Oakland Schoolyards Initiative, designed to transform elementary and middle school schoolyards into vibrant spaces for physical activity for children, youth, and families.