The statistics are well known and sobering. More than 23.5 million children and adolescents in the United States—nearly one in three young people—are overweight or obese. However, today the American Heart Association and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) are teaming up with the ambitious goal of reversing the obesity epidemic by 2015.
Building upon AHA’s extensive advocacy capacity and experience, RWJF will provide the AHA with $8 million in initial funding to create and manage an advocacy initiative focused on changing local, state, and federal policies to help children and adolescents eat healthier foods and be more active.
“Individuals across the country recognize the severity of the childhood epidemic, and they are counting on their elected and appointed representatives to support efforts to help children lead healthier lives,” said Nancy Brown, AHA CEO. “We’re excited to work with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to organize and build support for those policy efforts so the country can make lasting change.”
Under the new initiative, RWJF and AHA will focus on policy interventions to advance six priorities that research shows are likely to have the greatest impact on childhood obesity. Those priorities include:
• improving the nutritional quality of snack foods and beverages in schools;
• reducing consumption of sugary beverages; and
• protecting children from unhealthy food and beverage marketing.
• increasing access to affordable healthy foods;
• increasing access to parks, playgrounds, walking paths, bike lanes and other opportunities to be physically active; and
• helping schools and youth-serving programs increase children’s physical activity levels.
“As a country, we’re gaining a better sense of what changes work, and now it’s time to make those changes in every community. I’m confident this new collaboration with the American Heart Association will help us do just that," said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, RWJF president and CEO.
For more information and specifics about this ambitious plan, please read the full press release.