Leading Out-of-School-Time Organizations Unite to Combat Childhood Obesity Epidemic

Leading Out-of-School-Time Organizations Unite to Combat Childhood Obesity Epidemic

November 29, 2011

(November 29, 2011) WASHINGTON, DC – ChildObesity180, an alliance of multi-sector national leaders committed to reversing the trend of childhood obesity, announced today a unique partnership of leading out-of-school-time organizations that have united to adopt consistent principles for nutrition and physical activity.

The Healthy Kids Out of School initiative, launched at the Partnership for a Healthier America’s Building a Healthier Future Summit today, is a collaboration between Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts of the USA, the National Council of La Raza, the National Council of Youth Sports, the National Urban League, Pop Warner, US Youth Soccer, YMCA of the USA, and the National 4-H Council.

The leaders of these organizations, convened by ChildObesity180, developed universal nutrition and physical activity principles from a broad list of evidenced-based recommendations for combating childhood obesity – marking the first time leaders from these groups have worked together toward a common goal.

“Healthy Kids Out of School represents a groundbreaking collaboration of major youth-focused groups in a new and strategic effort,” said Peter Dolan, chairman of ChildObesity180. “These organizations are demonstrating the essential leadership and cooperation necessary to counter the childhood obesity epidemic and to meaningfully improve the health and well-being of the tens of millions children who participate in their programs.”

A significant percentage of school-aged children in the U.S. 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. Because of this broad reach, out-of-school programs have been identified as a promising area for promoting healthy habits and preventing childhood obesity.

However, there has been great variability in the foods and beverages served and opportunities for physical activity offered to children participating in out-of-school programs.

Recognizing this opportunity for action, leaders from the nine ChildObesity180-affiliated organizations identified and agreed upon three sustainable, actionable principles that are sufficiently flexible for adaptation to local environments and cultures. They 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 National Urban League is pleased to join ChildObesity180 and our national partners in this collaborative movement. Many children in communities of color are more likely to be obese and live in unsafe communities where there are few opportunities for physical activity and limited access to healthy food,” said National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial. “Now, by adopting these three principles in after school programs and as a part of out-of-school-time activities, we are coming together to offer our children practical, smart, cost-effective measures for a lifetime of lessons about healthy food choices and physical activity.”

In addition to developing the framework for these principles, the Healthy Kids Out of School initiative will develop a comprehensive implementation plan to connect organizations with the local resources needed to help adopt the principles.

“Aligning these organizations with unifying principles ensures that all children who participate in out-of-school programs are consistently encouraged to eat and drink healthfully and to be active, regardless of where they spend their time out of school,” said Christina D. Economos, Ph.D., associate professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, and director of ChildObesity180. “ChildObesity180 and its partners are committed to pursuing these kinds of results-oriented strategies that are innovative and ambitious and that champion the best interests of children and their futures.”

About ChildObesity180
Healthy Kids Out of School is the first of several major initiatives that ChildObesity180 will execute to combat childhood obesity. ChildObesity180 fosters cross-sector collaboration to reverse the trend of childhood obesity within one generation’s time. Charter members are national leaders from the public, nonprofit, academic, and private sectors who are using their reach and expertise to drive an integrated national strategy of high-impact initiatives to prevent childhood obesity. ChildObesity180 is chaired by Peter Dolan and directed and co-directed by leading obesity researchers Christina Economos, PhD, and Miriam Nelson, PhD, of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. Founded in 2009, ChildObesity180 is conducted in collaboration with Tufts University; the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation serves as a core strategic partner of ChildObesity180. For more information, visit www.ChildObesity180.org.