Overweight Children Under Five is Focus of Conference
January 4, 2008
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The rising rates of obesity for toddlers, children and adolescents and what can be done to reverse the dangerous trend is the topic of a summit that is expected to draw more than 100 local health, education and civic leaders.
The Healthy and Active Before 5 Summit is scheduled from 8:30 - 11:30 a.m. on Friday, January 11 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Concord. It will introduce a comprehensive action plan with eight principles developed over the past year by leaders from many Contra Costa organizations and agencies with input from families throughout the County. It will also give participants a chance to explore how to build a healthier environment for children. (The Healthy and Active Before 5 Action Plan is available online at cchealth.org)
"Childhood obesity is an epidemic. In the last 25 years, the national prevalence of overweight two-to-five year old children has more than doubled. The newest data shows that 33.3% of Contra Costa's low-income children two-to-five years old were either overweight or obese in 2006. We anticipate record high rates of obesity, diabetes, hypertension and early death from heart disease unless we can change the environment in which these kids grow up. It's a crisis," says Dr. Diane Dooley, a physician with Contra Costa Health Services and past co-chair of Families Coalition for Activity and Nutrition (CAN).
Dr. Dooley says the goal of the plan is to create food and activity environments in neighborhoods and key institutions that will motivate and support children and families to adopt healthy behaviors. The collaborative effort that developed the action plan for Contra Costa and is sponsoring the summit includes Families CAN, Kaiser Permanente, Contra Costa Health Services, First Five Contra Costa and the Contra Costa Child Care Council. Kaiser Permanente is providing foundational funding for this ongoing effort.
Kaiser Permanente spokesperson Marianne Balin says the health consequences of obesity in very young children are disturbing and must be addressed by changing the environment in which children grow up. "We have to make the healthy choice the easy choice," she says, pointing out that everyone has a role in making that happen. "It's time for every segment of the community to take action to stop this epidemic. The Action Plan spells out how we can protect our children and safeguard our communities' health for decades ahead."
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- Charlotte Dickson