Fight Pediatric Obesity in DC…IT’S THE LAW!

by

Title: Michele Obama’s Campaign to Fight Childhood Obesity

There is an epidemic of pediatric obesity in the United States.  DC has one of the highest rates of overweight and obese children.  In 2007, 36% of DC high school students were either overweight or obese.  Pediatric obesity disproportionately affects Wards 7 and 8, where 40 – 48% of children live below the federal poverty level.

Several citywide initiatives have been implemented to combat pediatric obesity.  In 2010 the DC City Council passed the Healthy Schools Act (HSA).  The policy aims to improve the health and nutrition of public and public charter school students by addressing the following:  raising school nutritional requirements to

Title: 2007 Rates of Overweight and Obese Children
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

meet national standards, increasing physical activity, establishing farm to school programs and promoting green schools.  The amount of national and local funding that schools receive can potentially affect their ability to fully implement the policy.  DC contributed $6 million in local funds during the 2010-11 academic year.  DC Hunger Solutions composed an HSA progress report, which provided self-reported data from DC public and public charter schools.  The report showed some progress, but there are several ongoing areas for improvement.

As children spend the majority of their day in school, the HSA has great potential to impact pediatric obesity rates in DC.  All public and public charter schools should be obligated to comply with the legislation.  In addition, the DC Office of the School Superintendent should implement a better system to track progress through continued monitoring of school lunch programs, evaluating physical education curricula and trending rates of obesity in DC public/public charter school students.

Title:  DC Farm to School WeekSource:  DC Healthy Schools Act Year One Snapshot

Title: DC Farm to School Week
Source: DC Healthy Schools Act Year One Snapshot

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3 Responses to “Fight Pediatric Obesity in DC…IT’S THE LAW!”

  1. jaekyounkim Says:

    Thank you for the interesting topic.
    Behind the fancy buildings and nice parks DC seems to have lot of problems. 36% overweight or obese is a very high rate, and implementing HSA seems to be a good decision.
    Looking at HSA, it seems like they just put all the interventions they can in one program. Were there any formative research regarding the risk factor of childhood obesity in DC which can indicate the highest risk factor?
    And looking at the progress report some positive results are coming out. But it would be good to know the actual impact of the program to see how the childhood obesity rate has changed in DC.
    And is there any plan to implement this law to other States?
    It is obvious that not only DC is having childhood obesity problem.
    Anyway it is good to see that now the obesity is concerned as a threat to health in the society.

  2. mvirkbak Says:

    Thank you for providing great information about the initiatives and role of the Healthy Schools Act to combat childhood obesity in DC. Obesity is a growing epidemic worldwide, and the major contributors to this problem have long been known to be the dietary habits contributing high caloric intake as well as sedentary lifestyle.

    The initial results of improved intakes of fruits and vegetables, improvement in physical activity are impressive and hopefully with the constant efforts the trend will continue to be in the correct direction. Do you know if there are program sustainability plans, would there be a renewal grants/funds to continue/sustain the program in the future? Also wondering how long the follow-up is planned?
    The initial results suggest that it is a great program, and could serve as a model for other parts of the US. However, looking at the grant money being nearly $6 million, I wonder if the states in the south that have the highest adult obesity rates in the US would be able to financially afford such programs for their children. Do you know if there are any ongoing current proposals for such programs in other states?

  3. yalsharq Says:

    Thank you very much for this interesting topic.
    Without any doubts, child obesity is one of the hot topic issues in the US healthcare system that generates a heated debate most often especially on the stakeholders and politicians table.
    Now we all know about the “sequester” which is a group of cuts to federal spending set to take effect March 1. I believe that sequestering is going to include some funding cuts to the schools under the category of (special education cuts). It estimated by $840 million
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/02/20/the-sequester-absolutely-everything-you-could-possibly-need-to-know-in-one-faq/
    I am afraid that under this law it will be hard to fund such innovative program that already applied in DC and adapting it to other states.

    My questions here are similar to the above questions from my colleagues:
    Are there similar plans in other States? And if so, is it under federal, state or private funding? And if $6 million was enough in DC, would it be attainable to implement this in other lower income states? If so, what about the sustainability of such a program in the future?

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