Nov 17, 2016, 3:00 PM, Posted by
Donald F. Schwarz, Richard Hamburg
Teaming up to reverse childhood obesity has yielded promising results—including new data that shows rates among 2-4 year olds enrolled in the federal WIC program have declined in 31 states. But the work is far from over.
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Nov 1, 2016, 9:00 AM, Posted by
Providers need to be equipped with the tools to help patients make healthy choices. That’s why the Alliance for Healthier Generation is recognizing innovative training programs providing nutrition, physical activity and obesity counseling education to their students.
Even at the young age of four, Luke was overweight. In fifth grade, he tried out for the baseball team, and although he made it, he struggled that season. He was slower than the other kids as he rounded the bases, and he started having knee pain from the extra weight on his joints. Luke and his family knew they had to do something. But they dreaded going to the doctor, knowing he’d get weighed and then have to confront the escalating numbers on the scale. Year after year, the same thing would happen, and they’d have the same discussion with his doctor when they finally worked up the nerve to go. But the weight never came off.
Apprehension about a visit to the doctor is something we all face, no matter our age or health. Who among us doesn’t get a little nervous before our annual visit, knowing we might face a difficult conversation about losing weight, or flossing more, or stopping smoking? These are things we all know, but have a hard time talking about.
And even worse, if we do have these important conversations, they can lead to feelings of shame and disappointment.
But the reality is that it’s not necessarily your doctor’s fault. Even with the hundreds of thousands of hours of education your doctor gets in classrooms and hospitals, most receive little to no training in how to talk to patients about making healthy choices. In fact, fewer than 30 percent of medical schools meet the minimum number of hours of education in nutrition and exercise recommended by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.
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Sep 29, 2016, 11:00 AM, Posted by
Monica Hobbs Vinluan
Kids eat up to half their daily calories at school. Today school foods are healthier than ever, and that means a brighter future for our kids.
A truly pivotal moment in my life was when I first joined my daughter Riley for a school lunch date in 2009 when she entered first grade.
We walked through a lunch line that swirled with unhealthy options. Mashed potatoes floated in pools of gravy and ice cream was the most popular item on the menu. Healthy foods were hard to come by—the line was dominated by sweets, chips and other snacks. I was stunned as both a parent and someone who spent my working hours trying to create healthier conditions for kids to thrive in.
Riley is 13 years old now, and my son Reese is 11. Over the years, I’ve continued to meet both of my kids at school for lunch. I’m happy to share, firsthand, how updated nutrition standards and lunchroom champions have transformed our school meal times into something we are excited about!
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Jun 1, 2016, 12:30 PM, Posted by
Katherine Hempstead, Victoria Brown
Innovative approaches in health insurance can help support youth development and prevent chronic diseases.
While research shows that access to safe neighborhood spaces for physical activity along with affordable healthy foods help families and kids maintain a healthy weight, it’s often not enough.
Health care economist Mike Bertaut illustrated this reality through a deeply personal and passionate post last month. He opened up about his lifelong struggle with obesity and shared some important lessons about how the health care sector can help children maintain a healthy weight. It’s a moving piece worth reading.
As Mike shows us, health care providers—and health insurers—have a critical role to play, especially for children and families at highest risk for obesity and obesity-related disease.
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Apr 5, 2016, 11:00 AM, Posted by
We want all kids to enter kindergarten at a healthy weight. And we believe it’s possible within the decade.
Pregnancy through early childhood forms a critical window of opportunity for ensuring children get a healthy start to life.
In March, our program Healthy Eating Research published the most comprehensive examination to date of factors that can increase a child’s risk for obesity early in life. It shows that women who weigh more before they get pregnant, gain excess weight during pregnancy, or use tobacco while pregnant, are more likely to have children who become overweight or obese.
There are a variety of factors beyond prenatal health that also influence a child’s weight. Children form their taste preferences early in life, which is why it’s so important to ensure that they have access to a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains―right when they begin eating solid foods. Play and physical activity are also essential for optimal development. And there’s no reason for young children to drink sugary drinks—milk and water are best. All of these habits, if learned in early childhood, can last a lifetime.
The good news is the country as a whole is making progress in helping more kids start life at a healthy weight: Obesity rates among kids ages 2 to 5 have gone down in recent years.
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Mar 9, 2016, 9:00 AM, Posted by
Tina Kauh, Victoria Brown
Healthy Eating Research expands its commitment to equity through a new funding opportunity that reserves awards for innovative studies focused on rural, American Indian and Asian/Pacific Islander populations.
The students at Native American Community Academy, a member of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s Healthy Schools Program, believed their school should serve healthy lunches that incorporated foods indigenous to the Navajo culture. So, they set out to turn their idea into a reality.
The students had an ultimate goal in mind: convince their principal to hire a company that would provide these healthier, more traditional meals. But, first, they had to prove that this type of food service could be done.
They started with the basics. With a budget of no more than $2 per person, students headed to a local grocery store and purchased ingredients for a meal they would prepare on their own and serve to their teachers and administrators to demonstrate that offering healthy Native American food at school is both feasible and affordable.
Their menu for the day: vegetarian chili with beans, blue corn meal mush (a traditional Navajo dish), an organic fruit cup and a dish they called the “Beez Kneez,” which had squash, corn, green chili, garlic and onions. The meal received rave reviews. Not only did the principal agree to find a new food service company, she put the students in charge of the task.
This is just one of many stories that reinforce the important role schools play in teaching kids about nutrition and offering healthy meals, snacks and drinks. Among kids in underserved communities (like the students at Native American Community Academy), the role of schools is especially critical.
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Mar 8, 2016, 10:45 AM, Posted by
ChildObesity180 is bringing the best elements of private sector thinking and scientific research in order to improve the health of kids in America. Here's how.
In 2009 it became clear to me that if our nation were truly serious about reversing the childhood obesity epidemic, a novel approach was required. The numbers remain just too unacceptably high in all groups and troubling disparities persist.
Enter Peter Dolan, Chairman of Tufts University Board of Trustees and former Chief Executive Officer of Bristol-Myers Squibb with a long-time commitment to health. His background made him a complement to our work at Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. Along with Dr. Miriam Nelson, a professor of nutrition, we set out to develop a new method of addressing this complex problem, and co-founded ChildObesity180.
We created a collaborative model: bringing together nationally-renowned leaders from academia, nonprofits, business, and government (whom we refer to as Charter Members) to drive change on a national scale and substantially effect 5-to-12-year-olds across the country. We blend scientific rigor with insights from the private sector to develop, implement, evaluate and scale high-impact obesity prevention initiatives.
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Feb 8, 2016, 9:15 AM, Posted by
A year since RWJF committed $500 million toward reversing childhood obesity, early signs of progress show us that cross-sector partnerships and access to healthier options are key steps to ensure all children have opportunities to grow up at a healthy weight.
One year ago, I traveled to New York City to announce that the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation would commit $500 million toward the goal of helping all children grow up at a healthy weight by 2025, bringing our total investment on this issue to more than $1 billion.
The gym at West Side High was packed and brimming with excitement on announcement day. We cheered early signs of progress in places like Philadelphia, New York City and rural North Carolina, but all of us knew the job wasn’t done. Even in places reporting good news, progress usually wasn’t reaching low income families and communities of color equitably. Everyone agreed we had to push harder, both to accelerate the pace of progress and ensure that its benefits reached all our children.
Now it’s one year later, and I’m pleased to report that the optimism we felt proved justified.
Nationally, research shows that school lunches have improved, and both students and parents support the healthy changes. Physical education is now due for a major upgrade, thanks to new funding sources in the just-passed education law that replaced “No Child Left Behind.”
The latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s NHANES study confirm that we are on the right track. Obesity rates are down five percentage points among our youngest children and are holding steady among other age groups.
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