The New York Times reported in April 2007 article, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation plans to spend more than $ 500 million over the next five years to reverse the increase in childhood obesity nationwide, including Texas. It is one of the largest public health initiatives ever tried by a private philanthropy.
“This is an epidemic that is going to cost the country in terms of morbidity and mortality and economically,” said Dr. Risa Lavizzo- Mourey, the foundation’s president and chief executive. “The younger generation is going to live sicker and die younger than their parents because of obesity.”
The foundation estimates that about 25 million children 17 and younger are obese or overweight, nearly a third of the 74 million in that age group, according to Census Bureau data and a 2006 study published in the Journal of American Medical Association.
Many of these children are poor and live in neighborhoods where outdoor play is unsafe and access to fresh fruits and vegetables is limited. “In many cases, the environment makes it almost impossible for them to choose healthy lifestyles,” Dr. Lavizzo-Mourey said. “We are going to try to change it.”
The foundation plans to invest in projects to improve access to healthy food, encourage the development of safe play spaces, increase research to enhance understanding of obesity and prod governments adopted policies to address the problem, among other things.
Experts obesity welcomed the plans of the fund.
“Government grants for biomedical general, including obesity research, financed lowest levels I’ve seen in my career,” said Dr. David Ludwig, director of the Optimal Weight for Life Clinic at Children’s Hospital Boston and author of the new book, “Ending Food Fight.” “So we are especially dependent on philanthropic support.”
Philanthropy has long pressed improved health, from John D. Rockefeller, the money produced a yellow fever vaccine, the Bill and Melinda Gates, who are underwriting new health technologies and vaccines to tackle a variety of global problems.
Robert Wood Johnson, who built Johnson & Johnson into one of the world’s largest health and medical products companies, established the foundation his city on his death in 1968 with 10,204,377 shares of the company stock. He committed it to improving the health of Americans.
The base played a major role in curbing tobacco use in this country, spending $ 446 million from 1991 to 2003 to achieve that goal, it plans to use the experience to shape its attack on youth fat.
Since 1995, the number of adult and teenage smokers has dropped by 12.6 percent and 18 percent, respectively.
“It was very well thought out strategic initiative,” said Joel L. Fleishman, a professor of law and public policy at Duke University. The foundation underwrote research, prevention and smoking-cessation programs, and increased awareness of the dangers of smoking is.
In recent years, the foundation has pledged $ 80 million to childhood obesity programs, like grants to the Food Trust to persuade supermarket operators to return to poor neighborhoods.
New efforts of its plan to exploit and strengthen the efforts of the food industry and the provinces and the government to deal with problems in school, Dr. Lavizzo-Mourey said. Several snack food producers to changes in their packaging and ingredients, and three soft drinks companies said they would no longer supply sweetened drinks to school cafeterias and vending machines.
Several states have mandated changes in school menus, increased ergonomics education and begun reporting students’ body score parents.
In Arkansas, which is one of the most comprehensive programs that problem, obesity among the 450,000 children in 1,300 public schools has plateaued.
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