Shaping Up the Nation with ChildObesity180

Guest Post by ChildObesity180

blogimage_shapingupnationShape Up Somerville (SUS, 2002-2005), a successful multi-pronged, community-based effort to fight childhood obesity, was presented as a case study by The Intersector Project on January 13, 2014.  SUS resulted in lower obesity rates and improved health behaviors for early elementary school children in that community.  We wondered: could the learnings from SUS be ramped up exponentially to reach children across America?  Today, ChildObesity180 at Tufts University is striving to answer that question.

Led by Peter R. Dolan, former CEO of Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Dr. Christina Economos, Associate Professor and New Balance Chair in Childhood Nutrition at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, ChildObesity180 seeks to reverse the trend of childhood obesity in the US in one generation’s time. Our Charter Membership is comprised of top national leaders—true champions—from the highest level of science, business, government, and the non-profit sector across the country who are working collaboratively to identify innovative and integrated solutions with the potential to work on a national scale. See our website to learn about our strategy and initiatives to date.

The journey from SUS to ChildObesity180 meant creating new models and innovative methods to work with committed and influential national leaders and to translate their guidance and recommendations into action.  Similar to SUS, ChildObesity180 is based on the belief that collaboration and bold thinking are keys to success in solving a problem as complex as childhood obesity. Our Charter Membership is remarkably creative with unlimited ideas and exemplary dedication to collaboration. What does this look like in practice? An understanding of the inner workings of the various sectors; appreciation for the different pressures each experiences; personal and professional respect; a commitment to common values; and dedication to measurement and results.

Building on the work of the Charter Membership, the ChildObesity180 team has built broad-scale initiatives that are putting quality physical activity back into the school day; creating healthier environments on sports fields and in out-of-school-time programs; and working with restaurants to “right-size” children’s meals.

ChildObesity180 is off to a good start.  We are encouraged by early signs of impact and expect our reach and scope to continue to grow. Our success to date resulted from blending the rigor of science with the urgency and innovation of business, the powerful networks of the not-for-profit world, and the expertise and public commitment of government.  Our aims are bold.  We want to reach 80% of U.S. children between the ages of 5 and 12.  Reversing this epidemic will be possible only if national thought leaders from all sectors collaborate and everyone does their part. In the end, everything depends upon deep concern for the health of children and leadership from all of these sectors. Somervillians didn’t settle for the status quo and neither should any American who cares about the health of our children.

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