Signs of Success in Addressing Childhood Obesity
First progress report by Partnership for a Healthier America highlights commitments, achievements by Kaiser Permanente and partners
How do we know if we are making significant progress in the fight to end childhood obesity? That was a question attendees were asking at this year’s Partnership for a Healthier America annual summit.
The 2013 Building a Healthier Future Summit, held March 6–8 in Washington, D.C., highlighted several signs of success, most notably in the release of PHA’s first progress report. The report details the progress being made through partner organizations, including Kaiser Permanente, who have committed to specific actions to help solve the childhood obesity crisis in the United States.
“PHA is setting a new standard for private-sector commitments in this area by making sure that they are both meaningful and measurable,” says Loel Solomon, PhD, vice president for Community Health at Kaiser Permanente. “This report is a testament to the impact that PHA and its partners are making in helping to fight childhood obesity.”
The PHA progress report examined the achievements of more than four dozen companies and organizations working in five broad areas: childcare/early childhood, food access, marketplace choices, physical activity and engagement/verification.
Kaiser Permanente’s commitment with PHA to support breastfeeding in its hospitals through a number of programs is detailed in the report. Breastfeeding has been shown to be a key factor in lowering the risk of childhood obesity. The report states that all Kaiser Permanente’s 29 hospitals that offer maternal and child health services, where more than 77,000 babies were born in 2012, are now working to support breastfeeding. They are either designated “Baby-Friendly” or are monitoring exclusive breastfeeding data as put forth by The Joint Commission’s Perinatal Core Measures, or are engaged in both of these.
In addition, Kaiser Permanente announced last October it had signed a commitment with the Partnership for a Healthier America to improve food offerings in its 37 hospitals. The commitment includes: Labeling all food and beverage items with calorie counts in cafeterias and on patient menus; limiting unhealthy beverages, including sugar-sweetened drinks, to a maximum of 20 percent of what is purchased in cafeterias and vending machines; and removing all deep-fat fryers and deep-fried products from hospital cafeterias and patient menus.
Kaiser Permanente is one of six founding partners of PHA, which is devoted to ensuring the health of our nation’s youth by bringing together public, private and nonprofit leaders to broker meaningful commitments and develop strategies to end childhood obesity. The independent and nonpartisan foundation was founded at the same time that First Lady Michelle Obama launched the Let’s Move! Campaign, with the goal of solving the problem of childhood obesity within a generation. Other co-founders of PHA include the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, The California Endowment, Nemours, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation and the Brookings Institution.
Other achievements noted in the progress report include:
• 2.95 million kids got moving in 2012
• 8,100 new physical activity opportunities became available for kids in 2012
• 1,713 cities had physical activity promotion events in 2012
• 141 new or renovated grocery stores or other retail locations have opened in or around food deserts
• 507,293 low-access individuals have been served by new or renovated grocery stores
• $18 million has been spent in the last 18 months in financing for new retail channels and innovative food distribution programs
PHA requires its partners to agree to measurable outcomes of their commitments. All commitments made by the partners are independently reviewed by external verifiers and are to be reported publicly by PHA each year.
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