Lessons Learned from Childhood Obesity Prevention Summit
On Tuesday, November 29 and Wednesday, November 30, foundation staff attended a childhood obesity prevention summit hosted by the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA). Working in conjunction with First Lady Michelle Obama's initiative Let's Move, PHA brings together public, private and nonprofit leaders to broker meaningful commitments and develop strategies to end childhood obesity.
Obesity is a growing epidemic among youth in our country. Children who are overweight or obese are significantly more likely to become overweight or obese adults, and they are at a greater risk of developing a host of chronic conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. According to PHA, the more than 35 million children overweight or obese may, for the first time in our history, "face a shorter lifespan than their parents."1
This epidemic has profound implications beyond individual health.
- A child treated for obesity costs the health care system four times more than the average insured child2
- Lost workdays, lowered productivity and related medical expenses for obese children cost the U.S. more than $73 billion each year3
- The nation's security may be at risk with one in four 17-24 year olds now too heavy to serve4
As reported at the summit, exciting synergies and partnerships are forming between the public and private sectors to reduce this trend. Schools and day care centers are working with local farmers to source and serve more nutritious food. Supermarket chains, with the support of funders and community leaders, are opening grocery stories in so called "food deserts," low-income neighborhoods without access to healthy, affordable food. National youth-focused nonprofits have created guidelines and coordinated messaging around healthy eating and increased physical activity.
Nutrition, food access and the reduction of childhood obesity are existing areas of focus for the North Penn Community Health Foundation. Two of the foundation's current strategic initiatives, Cultivating Communities Campaign and the Nutrition Coalition, work to address food access and quality issues in the North Penn community. Another strategic initiative, WISE SNAC®, fosters collaboration among students, parents, teachers and school administrators and community partners to reinforce healthy eating and activity messages and create new opportunities for students to maintain a healthy lifestyle. These initiatives fall under the foundation's funding priority of Promoting Disease Prevention and Wellness.
The foundation will apply the lessons learned from the summit and continue to bring various organizations together to find innovative solutions to improve food access and encourage more physical activity in the North Penn Community.
1 Partnership for a Healthier America Fact Sheet
2 2011 Thomson Reuters analysis based on the national MarketScan databases of claims and medical encounters for approximately 40 million people with private health insurance nationwide and 6 million people with Medicaid coverage from 12 states.
3 Sinkelstein EA, DiBonaventura M, Burgess SM, Hale BC. "The Costs of Obesity in the Workplace." Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 52(10): 971-976, 2010.
4 Ready, Willing and Unable to Serve. A Report by Mission: Readiness, 2009.