Advancing a Healthier Agenda
2013 was a very exciting time for me to join the Alliance for a Healthier Generation as its new CEO.
For the first time in three decades, we are starting to see some data indicating that, for some populations in some states and localities, the incredibly high rates of child obesity are starting to decline. The declines are modest and, for the most part, not evident in the populations at highest risk. However, after two decades of consistent increases in child obesity rates, followed by a number of years in which the rates stayed flat, any declines are a cause for celebration. After celebrating, we need to get back to work. In order to avoid catastrophic public health and economic consequences, we must dramatically reduce our current high rates of child obesity. And we need to do it across all populations.
As a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention scientist, I’ve long admired the Alliance’s science-based, multi-component approach that builds the capacity of key social institutions to transform the environments in which our children live, learn and play. As this annual report will clearly demonstrate, the Alliance’s visionary leadership in child obesity prevention led to many remarkable accomplishments in the past year:
- The Alliance made enormous progress in its strategic goal of activating four key societal systems: schools, out-of-school-time programs, healthcare and industry.
- The Healthy Schools Program continued to grow as the nation’s largest in-school obesity prevention network. Extraordinary new partnerships and generous grants paved the way for what was the largest year of growth in the program’s history. There are more than 18,000 participating schools creating healthy campuses where kids can learn more and flourish.
- The Alliance’s innovative Healthy Out-of-School Time initiative also saw dramatic growth. We’re pioneering healthy improvements in the foods, beverages and physical activity offered to millions of children before and after school. And our Healthier Generation Benefit is giving more than 2.7 million kids access to dietary counseling and obesity-related medical visits.
- Finally, new agreements with large food companies are expanding healthy, affordable food options to students. All of the Alliance’s programs are carefully evaluated, so we can understand their impact and contribute to the science base for child obesity prevention.
Moving forward, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation remains resolute in its pursuit of a multifaceted, holistic approach to ending childhood obesity. The Alliance is well poised to achieve its goal to support more than 30,000 schools across the nation as they transform into healthier places; to increase access to healthier foods and physical activity for tens of thousands of youth in out-of-school time settings; to extend healthcare benefits related to the prevention and treatment of childhood obesity to millions of children; and to continue working with companies to make healthier choices the easier choices for kids and families.
With support from our board of directors and founding organizations, and with your ongoing investment and collaboration, we can make the environments in which our children live, learn and play healthier places. We can reverse the child obesity epidemic and make the next generation a healthier generation.
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