The WCAAP promotes and supports efforts being made across our state and nation to decrease childhood obesity. While Washington State may not have the highest rates of childhood obesity in the country, approximately 30% of our children and adolescents are overweight or obese and that is still no small number. To address this issue, there have been many local and statewide childhood obesity efforts happening in Washington to address both prevention and management.
Health care providers witness the impact of this epidemic daily. Yet, many providers still do not feel comfortable counseling and managing obesity. Here are several links to help support healthcare providers in preventing and managing overweight/obesity in your clinic. They also have useful information for parents and their children. Most recently, First Lady Michelle Obama has partnered with AAP to start Let’s Move!. She and AAP are asking that providers assess BMI percentile at all well-child checks and provide healthy lifestyle messages.
While we can do our part in the health care sector, our role in addressing childhood obesity is limited given the broad societal context of the problem. Therefore, DOH and Public Health departments in several counties have also been actively involved in this issue with funding from STEPS to a Healthier US, RWJF and Kellogg Foundation among others. Community-based efforts to improve access to healthier foods (e.g. farms to schools), active transportation to school like bicycling and walking (e.g. Safe Routes to Schools, walking school bus), coordinated school health (improving nutrition and physical activity in schools), and improving the built environment (e.g. completing sidewalks and improving walkability) are components of these programs to address the cultural/societal issues that have led to this obesity epidemic. In addition, the Washington State Childhood Obesity Prevention Coalition was recently created as a statewide coalition of organizations, including WCAAP, advocating for policies to address the environmental and cultural factors leading to obesity with particular attention to health disparities.
WCAAP is interested in building a network of providers in our state working on childhood obesity. If you are interested or working on childhood obesity prevention, management and/or policy in your practice, schools or community, let us know what you are doing by emailing Monica Richter.