CDC dispenses $25 million to battle childhood obesity

ATLANTA — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday launched a new effort to address childhood obesity using successful elements of both primary care and public health. As much as $25 million in funding made available through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will support a four-year Childhood Obesity Demonstration Project. The project will build on existing community efforts and will work to identify effective healthcare and community strategies to support children’s healthy eating and active living, and help combat childhood obesity.

“Over the last three decades, obesity rates among children and adolescents have nearly tripled,” stated CDC director Thomas Frieden. “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 will target children between the ages of 2 years and 12 years covered by the Children’s Health Insurance Program, a low-cost health insurance that covers more than 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 approaches include combining changes in preventive care at doctor visits with supportive changes in schools, child care centers and such community venues 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, 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.

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.

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