Foundation Pledges $500M To Fight Childhood Obesity
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has pledged $500 million over the next five years for a campaign to curb childhood obesity, the New York Times reports.
The foundation will invest in programs that expand access to healthy foods; encourage the development of safe play areas for children; bolster research on obesity; and lobby federal and state governments to adopt policies that address childhood obesity.
The funds also will be used to enhance efforts by the food industry, school districts and governments to address the problem, according to Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, president and CEO of the foundation (Strom, New York Times, 4/4). The foundation will use the funds to increase outreach efforts to children in groups with the greatest risk of obesity and related health problems: lower-income blacks, Hispanics, American Indians, Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders.
Lavizzo-Mourey said that without action to reduce obesity rates, overweight children will develop related health conditions as adults, which will in turn cause health costs for the country to spiral.
Former U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher in a statement called the foundation's efforts "tremendous," adding that the "investment highlights just how critical this problem has become and is a call to all the nation that past efforts have been too small, too slow and too fragmented" (Gold, AP/Long Island Newsday, 4/4).
Lavizzo-Mourey said that childhood obesity "is an epidemic that is going to cost the country in terms of morbidity and mortality and economically. The younger generation is going to live sicker and die younger than their parents because of obesity." The initiative is in addition to the $80 million the foundation has spent on childhood obesity over the last few years (New York Times, 4/4).