New Effort Focuses on Overweight Children Under Five
March 6, 2007
A group of East Bay organizations is launching a new effort to protect young children from falling victim to a pediatric obesity epidemic that has long term and serious health consequences.
Kaiser Permanente, First Five Contra Costa, Contra Costa Health Services and Families Coalition for Activity and Nutrition (CAN) have joined forces to form Healthy and Active Before 5. The collaborative effort is designed to develop a countywide action plan for Contra Costa to address the problems of obesity in children five years old and younger. The group has created a Leadership Council of community leaders to establish and promote the plan. The Council has its first meeting on March 8. Forums will be held over the next few months throughout the county to hear concerns and suggestions from residents. Kaiser Permanente is providing $96,000 for the project.
"In the last 25 years, the national prevalence of overweight two to five year old children has more than doubled," says Dr. Diane Dooley, a physician with Contra Costa Health Services and co-chair of Families CAN. "And we know we have a problem locally because 43% of children seen by Contra Costa Health Services last year were either overweight or at risk for being overweight and a third of fifth graders in Contra Costa are either overweight or obese. It's a crisis."
According to Sean Casey, Executive Director of First Five Contra Costa, the health consequences of obesity in very young children are disturbing, because up to 70% of overweight school children remain overweight into adulthood. Overweight children are also at risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes - all conditions that used to be seen mostly in adults.
"It's time for every segment of the community to take action to stop this epidemic," says Marianne Balin, Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit Manager. "We are calling on decision-makers in government, health care, children's services, the faith community, businesses, education and non-profits to roll up their sleeves, bring their best ideas and help us draft an action plan that will turn this around." (More information about Healthy and Active Before 5 is available online or by calling 925-313-4694)
"The goal is to create a meaningful, doable plan with practical actions that will protect our children and safeguard our communities' health for decades ahead," says Balin.
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- Melisa P. Nopuente