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Johnson Foundation Offers More Than Band-Aid in Fight Against Childhood Obesity


PRINCETON, N.J. -- The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the nation's largest health care philanthropy, announced it will commit at least million over the next five years to combat childhood obesity.

PRINCETON, N.J., April 5 -- The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the nation's largest health care philanthropy, announced it will commit at least million over the next five years to combat childhood obesity.

The funds will be used to expand school-based nutrition and physical activity programs, and help state and local governments and community agencies coordinate anti-obesity efforts, the foundation said.

The grants will also be used to "advocate for change, and evaluate impact; and encourage food and beverage companies to offer healthier products and change their marketing practices," according to a statement issued by the foundation.

The goal of the pledge, the largest of its kind ever made by a philanthropic organization, is to reversing the epidemic of childhood obesity in the U.S. by 2015, the foundation said.

The foundation's weight-control programs will focus on children from groups shown to be at the highest risk for obesity and related problems, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. These targeted groups include children from African-American, Latino, Native American, Asian-American and Pacific Islander backgrounds who live in low-income communities.

"This is an all-American crisis," said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A., president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. "It affects all Americans, and it will require all of America working together to turn it around. Our commitment is a call to action for families, schools, government, industry, health care and philanthropy. To reverse the obesity epidemic and create a culture of health, we must provide families with better access to healthy choices."

The foundation noted that obesity rates among children ages six to 11 have increased more than fourfold over the past 40 years, and that about 25 million children and adolescents -- a third of all children in this age group -- are either overweight or obese.

"Individual choice and behavior are important, but the world we live in plays a big role, too. We have to make it easier for kids to eat well and move more," said Dr. Lavizzo-Mourey. "That means more parks and safe places for kids to play, more grocery stores that stock affordable fresh produce, and improved school policies on nutrition and physical education. With this new commitment, we hope to foster more of these changes that will make it easier for families to raise healthy kids."

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