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Weight Control

Six California Communities Selected for Childhood Obesity Prevention Initiative

The California Endowment announced $11 million in funding awarded to six community collaboratives throughout California to participate in the foundation's four-year Healthy Eating, Active Communities Initiative. The objectives of the Initiative are to improve the food and physical activity environments for school-age children and to create momentum for widespread changes in the policies and practices that contribute to the rising rates of childhood obesity.

The collaboratives selected are located in predominantly low-income, urban and rural communities in Los Angeles, Alameda, Orange, San Diego and Shasta counties.

Obesity and its consequences such as diabetes are at epidemic levels among California children, especially among poor, ethnic and racial groups. Obesity that is due to unhealthy eating habits and inactivity, and influenced by factors in social and physical environments, is largely preventable.

Each collaborative consists of a community-based organization, a school district and a local public health department that will work together to help change policies and practices in schools, after-school programs, neighborhoods, media and advertising, and in health care services to improve opportunities for healthy eating and physical activity.

Activities of the collaboratives will include improving access to physical activities and nutritious food choices at schools and through after-school programs, as well as efforts to expand access to nutritious foods in neighborhoods by attracting grocery stores and farmer's markets, among others. In addition, the collaboratives will work to develop policies and programs for safe neighborhoods and places to exercise, and that counteract marketing of unhealthy foods to children.

"It is easy to say ‘eat right and get more exercise,' but we have to do more to make sure that kids have access to nutritious foods and fun, safe places so that they want to participate in physical activity," said Robert K. Ross, president and CEO of The Endowment. "This initiative is designed to help communities to take an active role in transforming their neighborhoods and schools into places where healthy food and activity choices are readily accessible."

Collaboratives were selected through a rigorous process that took into account communities – rates of diabetes, obesity, and youth fitness, community readiness to participate, and willingness to collaborate and partner across sectors. The six collaboratives will spend the first six months developing their action plans outlining goals, objectives, activities and timelines.

"It is unrealistic to place the burden of resolving this crisis on parents and children alone," said Marion Standish, director of The Endowment's Disparities in Health program.

"Though personal responsibility is important, our fast-food, media-saturated, unsafe streets, car-oriented environment is working against us. Schools, physicians, food industry leaders and other stakeholders must work with communities to create an environment where it is easier for young people to make healthy choices about eating and physical activity."

The California Endowment, a private, statewide health foundation, was established in 1996 to expand access to affordable, quality health care for underserved individuals and communities, and to promote fundamental improvements in the health status of all Californians.

For more information on the California Endowment, visit

© 2005 Health Resources Publishing