ChildObesity180: Reverse the Trend

Dates of Project: 2011 to 2014

Field of Work: Preventing childhood obesity

“The biggest challenge is to find the right talent who can pull off a portfolio of activities involving hundreds of thousands or even millions of kids.”—Bob Kocher, MD, Charter Member, ChildObesity180

Problem Synopsis: Evidence suggests that the private, public, nonprofit, and academia sectors could make progress in preventing childhood obesity if they pursued a common agenda. In fact, the Institute of Medicine singled out the need for public-private partnerships in its first report on preventing childhood obesity in 2005. However, most efforts to tackle the problem do not tap the best attributes of all those sectors.

Synopsis of the Work: ChildObesity180 brings together top leaders from the private, public, nonprofit, and academic sectors to find and develop the best evidence on combating childhood obesity. The program aims to quickly implement a few large-scale initiatives, evaluate them, and make adjustments to spur lasting change at a national level.

Key Results

  • ChildObesity180 has so far focused on three key initiatives:

    • The Active Schools Acceleration Project seeks to reverse the trend of declining opportunities for physical activity in schools. An Innovation Competition drew more than 500 entries from schools with creative programs that promote physical activity. Three winners will serve as models for another 1,000 schools in a second competition.
    • Healthy Kids Out of School brought together leaders from nine national out-of-school time organizations—such as the YMCA, National 4-H Council, Girl Scouts of the USA, Boy Scouts of America, and Pop Warner—to develop principles for health, wellness, and obesity prevention that the groups commit to implement. The organizations agreed on three principles: drink right, move more, and snack smart. With funding from a health insurer’s foundation, the organizations are piloting the principles in their New England programs.
    • The Healthy School Breakfast program is evaluating the impact of the Los Angeles Unified School District breakfast program on obesity and students’ overall health, as well as their cognitive and academic outcomes. The evaluation will also consider whether providing breakfast to all students helps or hinders weight gain, to inform the federally funded school breakfast program.

“In an odd way, the mere fact that there are so many initiatives on childhood obesity makes this work so important.”—David M. Cordani, CEO of Cigna Corp.

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What happens to childhood obesity when leaders match rigor of academic science with impatience of business?

“Sometimes it seems like we are going too slow, and sometimes it seems like we are going too fast.”—Julia Bloom, MPH, Director of Program Management, ChildObesity180