Topic of Interest in the News

Reduction in childhood-obesity rates seen from San Diego program

Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, found that an innovative private-public partnership called San Diego County Childhood Obesity Initiative helped reduce the number of overweight or obese children by 3.7% between 2005 and 2010. The findings were presented at the American Academy of Family Physicians Scientific Assembly

"We have hundreds of partners across multiple sectors," she said. "My job is to bring them together to keep them focused on a shared agenda and to make sure we're all working together with the same goals and objectives."

In schools, for example, they work to ensure school wellness policies are strong and effectively implemented by having partners serve on wellness councils in schools or districts. In healthcare, they encourage providers to include healthy weight gain and obesity prevention messaging in routine clinical practice.

The results have generated partnerships between local farmers and schools to bring more fresh produce in schools and a proliferation of community gardens and farmers' markets.

Childhood obesity is bigger than just what one sector like schools or healthcare can address.

"We're based on the premise that even if families know the healthy choices they should be making ... it's difficult for families to follow this advice if their environments -- places where they live, work, worship, purchase -- if these environments don't support health," Moder said. "In fact, they support unhealthy choices much more often, as is true in many communities."

Other cities have taken on this "collaborative impact effort" strategy for childhood obesity, she said, naming Portland, Maine and Somerville, Mass., as examples.

"Our residents have testified at city council meetings to advocate for environmental changes," she said. "They participate on wellness committees, write letters and op-eds in the newspaper, as well as attending city planning meetings."

Changes in Overweight and Obesity Among California 5th, 7th, and 9th Graders, 2005-2010
UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and California Center for Public Health Advocacy

Exercise 'as good as medicines' in treating disease
Evidence review finds 'blind spot' on benefits of exercise

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