There are many opportunities for you to become an advocate for healthy active living at the community, state, or federal level. Preventing ill-health in communities by helping them live healthy now saves money and lives in the long run. The decisions made in our neighborhoods and municipalities can affect our children's development and family health. As a parent or a health professional you can have a great deal of influence in your own community today.
Some promising strategies for creating health active communities identified in 2008 by the Prevention Institute are:
- Safe neighborhoods, communities, and buildings that support physical activity as part of every day life.
- Ensuring fresh, local, and healthy food is available and affordable within the community.
- Healthy foods and beverages are available and promoted in grocery/food stores, restaurants, and entertainment venues.
- Schools offer and promote only healthy foods and beverages to students.
- Schools promote healthy physical activities and incorporate them throughout the day, including before and after school.
- Childcare organizations including pre-school, afterschool, and early childhood settings offer and promote healthy foods and beverages and provide sufficient opportunity for, and promote, physical activity
Excerpted from 2008 Report from the Prevention Institute "Promising Strategies for Creating Healthy Eating and Active Living Environments" (http://www.preventioninstitute.org/documents/promisingstrategies.pdf )
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Some strategies for improving obesity at the community level include creating healthier food and physical activity environments (i.e. bike paths, access to fresh fruit and veggies, etc), improving school environments (opportunity for more physical activity, nutritious food choices, etc) and working towards health equity for all children. As a pediatrician or parent you can be an effective advocate in your community for improving your environment. For example you could join existing coalitions or start new ones, participate in parent teacher organizations, and/or write letters to your local and state elected officials.
As part of the Mobilizing Healthcare Professionals as Community Leaders in the Fight Against Childhood Obesity program, Mobilizing Healthcare Professionals as Community Leaders in the Fight Against Childhood Obesity is a project of the National Initiative for Children's Healthcare Quality (NICHQ), in cooperation with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the California Medical Association Foundation (CMA-Foundation), and the Robert Wood Johnson Center to Prevent Childhood Obesity (CPCO), to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic trend across the nation by training, supporting and providing technical assistance to healthcare professionals in becoming advocates for change within their communities.
- AAP Policy Statements, Clinical Reports, Technical Reports, Clinical Policy Guidelines, on obesity and related topics.
- Link to the AAP Prevention of Policy Opportunities Tool (POPOT), a tool is designed for healthcare professionals who have experience in advocacy and are interested in focusing their advocacy efforts on obesity prevention.
- Strategies for Enhancing the Built Environment to Support Healthy Eating and Active Living , a policy brief developed by the Prevention Institute. The key audiences for this brief are funders, professionals, and advocates who are interested in an overarching strategy for how the built environment can promote healthy eating and active living. It then outlines three target areas - active transportation and public transit, activity-friendly recreation environments, and land use planning and provides a general overview of the breadth of strategies and federal policies to effect change.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Recommended Community Strategies and Measurements to Prevent Obesity in the United States , a report developed by the CDC) that contains 24 recommended obesity prevention strategies focusing on environmental and policy level change initiatives that can be implemented by local governments and school districts to promote healthy eating and active living.
- Institute of Medicine (IOM) Report: Local Government Actions to Prevent Childhood Obesity,
The 2009 report Local Government Actions to Prevent Childhood Obesity presents the Institute of Medicine's Committee on Childhood Obesity Prevention Actions for Local Governments menu of recommended action steps for local government officials to consider in their efforts to prevent childhood obesity in their community.
- Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF): Action Strategies Toolkit – A Guide for Local And State Leaders Working to Create Healthy Communities And Prevent Childhood Obesity ,
a toolkit developed by Leadership for Healthy Communities, a national program of the RWJF was created to support local and state leaders nationwide in their efforts to promote healthy, active communities and access to affordable healthy foods. The strategies in this toolkit include promising and evidence-based practices that advance these goals and build upon the work in which policy-makers are already engaged.
- National Governor's Association (NGA): Successful State Strategies to Prevent Childhood Obesity ,the NGA Center convened the Shaping a Healthier Generation Advisory Council in response to the need for innovative and actionable childhood obesity prevention strategies for governors to implement in their states. This report, based on the Council's work, aims to offer direction to governors and other policymakers who want to craft children's health policies that prevent obesity and advance the well-being of families.
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There are many opportunities to become advocates at the state to help create and ensure food and physical activity environments that support active healthy living. Some tools to help you in your effort are identified below. For additional resources visit Helpful Links
AAP Division of State Government Affairs is tasked with providing assistance to AAP chapters as they advocate for children. The Division offers resources for advocates on vital children's health issues like Medicaid, injury and violence prevention, immunizations, and many others. Advocacy materials produced by the Division cover the legislative, research, and strategic dimensions of an issue.
- State Legislation Report (http://www.aap.org/advocacy/statelegrpt.pdf ): The 2007 State Legislation Report outlines activity on 11 issues relating to children's health and safety. The narrative for each issue explains the state activity that occurred during the 2007 state legislative sessions. State-by-state legislation charts include information from 2007 as well as previous years and maps provide a national perspective on state action. Obesity information can be found on page 43.
- Obesity Issue Brief (http://www.aap.org/obesity/pdf/obesity_issuebrief2008.pdf ) [MOC]: Issue Briefs provide AAP chapters with an introduction to state government issues and additional background information that can be used when communicating with legislators or other public officials.
National Initiative for Healthcare Quality (NICHQ) State Obesity Fact Sheets with the most recent national and state-based data regarding childhood overweight and obesity prevalence through data collected in 2007 by the National Survey of Children's Health and analysis from NICHQ's project partners,the Data Resource Center for Child and Adolescent Health (www.childhealthdata.org) and the Child Policy Resource Center, as an Interactive map. The State Fact Sheets offer information specific to your state on a variety of policy issues impacting (and being impacted by) childhood obesity such as: overall prevalence rates compared with other states, disparities and variances by race, insurance, income level, what your state is doing at the legislative level to combat childhood obesity, and what schools in your state are doing to combat childhood obesity.
The Childhood Obesity Action Network (COAN) has just published a new report, Childhood Obesity: The Role of Health Policy , that provides recommendations on actions that various stakeholders in health care (including providers, plans and employers) can take to mount an effective health care response to the epidemic of childhood obesity. This report serves to lay a foundation for that response and guide the activities of the Childhood Obesity Action Network (COAN).
State Legislation Searchable Database The Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's state legislation searchable database. The database allows users to search for state bills from 2001 to present related to nutrition and/or physical activity. Users are asked to pick either nutrition or physical activity on the first page or they may select the either option for the whole database. Users can use search fields, enter keywords, or search the entire database. There are no required search fields, so if the user simply hits "search" they will be able to access all bills in that subject area. This database is available to the general public and no registration or password is required. This database was created after requests from state partners and is the first public access database of its kind.
Shaping a Healthier Generation: Healthy Kids, Healthy America, State Profiles in Progress, March 2010. To support gubernatorial action a report was developed by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the NGA Center for Best Practices. RWJF and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), awarded grants up to $110,000 to 15 states to help them develop policies to prevent childhood obesity. Funding received by states supported a number of activities; however, state strategies generally fell into three categories:
1) Child care settings. Two states—Kentucky and Tennessee—
focused on child care efforts.
2) Policy planning and priorization. Four states—Michigan,
Minnesota, Mississippi, and New Mexico—focused on prioritizing
policy across the public and private sectors.
3) School-based efforts. Nine states—Indiana, Louisiana, New
York, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia,
and Wisconsin—focused on school-based efforts
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AAP Department of Federal Affairs
The Department of Federal Affairs has been the Academy's link to federal legislative activities in Washington, DC, for more than 30 years. Pediatricians with the drive to make a difference in child and adolescent health through Congress and/or federal agencies are given the information and tools necessary to become effective child advocates, from offering testimony to meeting with a representative or senator.
Resources are available at the Member Center (for AAP Members Only)
Current opportunities for advocacy at the national level in 2009 are the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act, the Transportation Equity Act and No Child Left Behind.
- US Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions Full Committee Hearing, March 4, 2010: Beginning the Dialogue on Reversing the Epidemic Video, featured testimony by Sandra Hassink, MD, MPH, FAAP, Chair, American Academy of Pediatrics Obesity Leadership Workgroup, Wilmington, DE
- View sllideshow of pictures from the hearing, March 4, 2010
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