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National Association of County and City Health Officials Awarded Grant for Initiative to Reverse Childhood Obesity Epidemic


Contact Alisa Blum
(202) 507-4277

National Association of County and City Health Officials Awarded Grant for Initiative to Reverse Childhood Obesity Epidemic

Funding from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Will Help NACCHO Work with

Local Health Departments to Improve Access to Healthy Foods, Physical Activity Options

Washington, DC (March 10, 2010) –

The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) has received a $300,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to mobilize local health department (LHD) teams across the Southeast to support local level policy changes that promote healthy eating and active living to reduce the burden of childhood obesity.

The grant was one of seven awarded by RWJF through its Leadership for Healthy Communities national program that assists state and local leaders in their efforts to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic. The awards came one week after First Lady Michelle Obama called on all Americans, including policy-makers at all levels, to join her Let's Move Campaign to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic. The work of the seven organizations will be focused on 15 states in the southern region, where obesity rates are among the nation's highest.

With nearly a third of children and adolescents either overweight or obese in this country, more than 23 million young people are at increased risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other serious chronic diseases. The toll on an already overburdened healthcare system is increasing exponentially. Studies estimate that the obesity epidemic is already costing the nation more than $147 billion annually in direct medical expenses.

In order to address this epidemic, NACCHO will organize a learning community of LHD officials from the South who have demonstrated leadership in addressing childhood obesity in their communities. These LHD officials will spearhead rapid adoption of successful policy strategies across the South, thereby supporting policy changes in communities not directly funded under this program. NACCHO will release an RFP to identify five LHDs whose health directors have shown leadership in healthy eating and active living in any of the following states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, South Carolina and West Virginia. Funds will be available to support staff and resources for the five selected LHDs, as well as to provide networking tools that all members of the learning community can use for resources, peer support, best practices, strategies and information exchange. The RFP will be released on April 1 and will be posted on www.naccho.org.

 "We are very excited to be part of Leadership for Healthy Communities," said Robert M. Pestronk, executive director of NACCHO. "With this grant, NACCHO will be able to provide technical and other support to five LHDs in the "stroke belt" currently implementing healthy eating and active living policies. By targeting the communities in this region and selecting to fund communities with large racial, ethnic, and income disparities, NACCHO will encourage the adoption of policies that will have the greatest impact on childhood obesity."

"While everyone has a role to play in combating childhood obesity, policy-makers are in a unique position to bring about the changes our society needs to succeed," said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A., president and CEO of the Foundation. "That's why the work of Leadership for Healthy Communities is so important."

Other RWJF Leadership for Healthy Communities grant recipients include the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational  Fund, the National Association of State Boards of Education, the National Conference of State Legislatures, the National Congress of American Indians, and the National League of Cities Institute.

About the National Association of County and City Health Officials
The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) represents the nation's 2,800 local governmental health departments. These city, county, metropolitan, district, and tribal departments work every day to protect and promote health and well-being for all people in their communities.