Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center to Prevent Childhood Obesity

Dates of Project: May 2008 through January 2012

Description: As RWJF announced its commitment of $500 million to help reverse the epidemic of childhood obesity by 2015, interviews with thought leaders throughout the country revealed support for a center that would provide technical assistance and galvanize the field. Center staff:

  • Hosted leadership retreats for leaders and senior staff of RWJF’s major programs and a Healthy Kids, Healthy Nation conference
  • Created and staffed five teams focused on: informing federal policy; helping state and local efforts to inform policy; coordinating childhood obesity prevention strategies across RWJF major childhood obesity programs; identifying and coordinating technical assistance; and communicating Center and RWJF grantee efforts.

Key Results

  • The Center’s contribution to the reframing of the discussion about the “causes” of childhood obesity helped to move it away from a focus on the individual child and family and toward policy and environmental factors that contribute to obesity, thus making the case for the important role of policy and environmental transformations.

  • The Center engaged a wide range of stakeholders and decision-makers, including Partnership for a Healthier America, the Convergence Partnership, and the CDC—and it helped to inform the White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity.

  • The Center also highlighted the disproportionate impact of environmental factors on low-income communities and communities of color, established obesity rate reductions in these populations as a priority, and supported efforts to address such disparities.

  • The Center produced a variety of communications products: a website (no longer active), 111 electronic weekly policy updates, 35 general policy updates, 12 Center statements on key developments, and 13 case studies. It also convened webinars with attendance regularly of 300 to 400 people, ranging from about 120 to 150 for the smallest to more than 1,000 for the largest.