ChildObesity180 Awarded $1.5 Million from Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation

ChildObesity180 Awarded $1.5 Million from Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation

October 31, 2012

ChildObesity180 Awarded $1.5 Million from Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation

Grant Combats Childhood Obesity in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine

Boston, MA – Oct. 31, 2012– ChildObesity180, in collaboration with Tufts University, has been awarded a $1.5 million grant from the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation to support its Healthy Kids Out of School initiative in Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. This award is part of the foundation’s Growing Up Healthy initiative, which supports organizations working with children to encourage healthy behaviors.

As an initiative of ChildObesity180, Healthy Kids Out of School works in collaboration with the country’s leading out-of-school-time organizations to promote nutrition and physical activity and provides resources for those organizations to become effective venues for childhood obesity prevention.  Partner organizations include Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts of the USA, National Council of La Raza, National Council of Youth Sports, National 4-H Council, National Urban League, Pop Warner, US Youth Soccer, and YMCA of the USA.

A significant percentage of school-age children in the United States are enrolled in out-of-school-time activities, including a large number of rural, urban, and low-income children who are particularly vulnerable to the poor health outcomes linked to childhood obesity. Accordingly, out-of-school programs are integral in developing healthy habits and preventing childhood obesity.

There is significant variability in the foods and beverages served and the physical activity offered to children participating in out-of-school programs. Recognizing an opportunity, Healthy Kids Out of School brought together leaders from its nine partner organizations to identify three sustainable, actionable principles from an extensive list of evidence-based recommendations, including the new Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Standards of the National Afterschool Association.These principles are:

  • Drink Right:  Choose water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages.
  • Move More:  Boost movement and physical activity in all programs.
  • Snack Smart:  Fuel up on fruits and vegetables.

The creation of these three principles was the first important step in a multi-pronged strategy to help prevent childhood obesity in out-of-school settings. To encourage and support widespread adoption and implementation of these principles at all levels of these organizations, Healthy Kids Out of School is developing a robust web-based tool, the Healthy Kids Hub (http://www.healthykidshub.org), to connect out-of-school program staff and volunteers with resources, tools, and training materials.

In addition to supporting the development of the Healthy Kids Hub, the $1.5 million in funding from the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation will support the evaluation of the Healthy Kids Out of School initiative in Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire that will initiate meaningful change for children in these states. This regional evaluation will serve as a “learning lab” to test resources, conduct focus groups and evaluate the initiative, all of which will help shape the national program.

“Tufts University has a strong history of support from the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation in conducting research in childhood obesity prevention,” said Christina D. Economos, Ph.D., associate professor at the Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University and Vice Chair and Director of ChildObesity180. “We look forward to continuing this important work, which will strengthen out-of-school time environments and ensure children have ample opportunities to be active and eat healthfully.”

“By supporting the Healthy Kids Out of School initiative, we’re training staff and volunteers in non- custodial after school programs in the same messages we've brought to afterschool child care centers over the past five years,” said Karen Voci, Executive Director of the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation. “Children who participate in scouts, youth soccer and football, 4H and other club programs will have the same healthy snacks and activities as their classmates who stay at school until their parents finish work. At the Harvard Pilgrim Foundation, we recognize the need to support and expand innovative initiatives that inform, educate and engage children and their families, and help change behaviors to make everyone healthier.”

About ChildObesity180

Healthy Kids Out of School is an initiative of ChildObesity180, an organization committed to cross-sector collaboration to reverse the trend of childhood obesity within one generation's time. The ChildObesity180 membership is comprised of national leaders from the public, nonprofit, academic, and private sectors who are using their reach and expertise to drive an integrated national strategy to prevent childhood obesity.The organization is chaired by Peter Dolan, former CEO of Bristol-Myers Squibb. Leading Tufts University childhood obesity and nutrition researcher Dr. Christina Economos serves as vice-chair and director and Dr. Miriam Nelson, a Professor at the Friedman School, is the co-director. Founded in 2009, ChildObesity180 is conducted in collaboration with Tufts University. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the JPB Foundation are strategic funders. For more information about ChildObesity180 and the Healthy Kids Out of School initiative, please visit www.childobesity180.org.