Childhood Obesity Prevention

Children playing are staying healthy.

In the summer of 2006, the Foundation for Healthy Communities conducted chart reviews in 25 primary care physician practices across New Hampshire to document the prevalence of childhood overweight and obesity among children ages 6-12 years old. In total, 1453 medical records were reviewed, and the New Hampshire Childhood Obesity Report revealed that 32.8% of children in this age group were overweight or obese. Further, we found that there was an opportunity to improve prevention and treatment services for childhood overweight not only in pediatric and family health care practices, but also in NH communities.

In an effort to assist communities in addressing childhood obesity, we established the NH Childhood Obesity Expert Panel in the Fall of 2006. Its charge was to develop practical recommendations for New Hampshire communities that wish to implement strategies for the prevention of childhood obesity. The panel's recommendations were released in spring 2007 and are outlined in the report, Preventing Childhood Obesity: Promoting Physical Activity and Healthy Eating.

The resounding message in the recommendations is that this is not as much of a weight issue as it is a health issue for our communities' children. The risks of being overweight or obese increase the risk of a number of serious medical conditions, including heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure, Type II diabetes, sleep apnea, respiratory problems and some cancers. Here, we provide recommendations and resources to help communities and families take the first steps towards prevention.

In late fall of 2006, the Foundation for Healthy Communities also initiated a childhood obesity prevention effort as Phase 3 of the Community Prevention and Treatment Initiative. Funding from the Endowment for Health, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation, Northeast Cholesterol Foundation, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, and the Alexander Eastman Foundation supported this multi-sector community prevention effort. Read about the successes and challenges of the CPTI model in the Mount Washington Valley Region and Derry/Londonderry communities in our report, Community Prevention and treatment Initiative Phase 3: Childhood Obesity Prevention, July 2009.

The Foundation for Healthy Communities is committed to several programs which address the issue of childhood obesity prevention and support the obesity prevention recommendations of the expert panel.

Read more about the initiatives at the Foundation: