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CDC takes new steps to combat childhood obesity

Research project will focus on doctors, communities and families

October 3, 2011
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boyThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has launched a new effort to address childhood obesity using successful elements of both primary care and public health. Funding made available through the Affordable Care Act will support a four year Childhood Obesity Demonstration Project. Supported by $25 million in funding awards, the project will build on existing community efforts and will work to identify effective health care and community strategies to support children’s healthy eating and active living and help combat childhood obesity. 

The project will target children ages 2–12 years covered by the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which provides low cost health insurance to over 7 million children from working families. Rates of childhood obesity are high overall, but for minority and low–income communities in particular, they are even higher.Using innovative approaches to reach low–income and minority families to tackle childhood obesity prevents the onset of many diseases associated with childhood obesity, including type 2 diabetes, asthma, and heart disease. 

These innovative approaches include combining changes in preventive care at doctor visits with supportive changes in schools, child care centers, and community venues such as retail food stores and parks. Community health workers will provide a bridge between families and resources in their communities in order to inform and educate hard–to–reach, limited English proficiency, and minority communities about disease prevention (including obesity), health insurance enrollment opportunities, and disease management.  Overall, the grantees’ work will focus on strategies that improve children’s health behaviors by involving the children themselves, their parents and other family members and the communities in which they live.

“Over the last three decades, obesity rates among children and adolescents have nearly tripled,” said CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH.  “Obese children are more likely to have asthma, depression, diabetes, and other serious and costly health problems.  This project will help figure out ways our children can grow up to lead long, healthy and productive lives.”

The project grantees include three research facilities, each of which will receive approximately $6.2 million over four years, to identify effective childhood obesity prevention strategies. The evaluation center will receive about $4.2 million over four years and will determine successful strategies and share lessons and successes.

Research facilities included in the project:

•University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
•San Diego State University
•Massachusetts State Department of Public Health, Evaluation Center:
•The University of Houston

At the end of the project in September 2015, CDC will disseminate the findings and provide recommendations for successful strategies to prevent obesity among underserved children throughout the United States.

More information about the Childhood Obesity Demonstration Project is available at: http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/childhood/researchproject.html

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