Inspiring Parents to Demand Communities Where All Children Can Grow Up at a Healthy Weight

A woman holds some vegetables she has grown in her garden.

Parents, children, and youth can and should actively demand healthier environments and food options in their communities. Building demand begins with being aware of the need for change and then taking small steps to create change.

The Issue

Every child deserves to be able to eat healthy food and stay active no matter where he or she lives. Children in families living in poverty and communities of color face the highest barriers to growing up at a healthy weight. 

Key Findings

This message guide was created to inform RWJF’s strategy on how to build demand for solutions to childhood obesity. The Foundation is sharing the research it funded with key audiences, including parents and organizations that work with parents, that can apply the insights and tools.

  • Notice what needs to change in your community and to talk about it with other parents and neighbors. Ask for the changes from someone who can make the change—a store owner, park manager, teacher, or spiritual leader. Thank and support those businesses that offer healthy options for children.

  • Speak about child health using empowering words such as “grow up at a healthy weight,” and avoid problem-focussed words such as “preventing childhood obesity.”

  • Share stories of real-life success that have community and cultural relevance, focusing on small steps to show how people working together can create change.


Engaged parents can drive demand for healthier environments through small community changes that, over time, can lead to changes in policy, the marketplace, and ultimately, lasting culture shifts.

About the Study

To inform this message guide, Metropolitan Group, a national communications firm with expertise in developing messages to drive social change, conducted a national voter poll, interviewed experts, and conducted focus groups in six locations.