Collaborative Efforts to Address Childhood Obesity

June 20, 2012

Yesterday the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease and our partner, WellPoint Inc., hosted a Capitol Hill briefing – “Collaborative Efforts to Address Childhood Obesity” – on the growing issue of childhood obesity and how government, the private sector, communities, providers and individuals can collaborate in order to prevent and manage childhood obesity. The second in PFCD and Wellpoint’s 2012 “Partnerships in Health” series, the event  brought together a variety of the PFCD members, key Hill staff, media and a wide range of public and private sector organizations.

Panelists included PFCD Policy Director Candace DeMatteis; Harvinder Sareen, PhD., Clinical Program Director, WellPoint, Inc.; Scott Kahan, M.D., American College of Preventative Medicine, Clinical Advisor, STOP Obesity Alliance; and Katie Adamson, Director of Health Partnerships and Policy, Y of the USA. Each panelist brought a unique perspective to the table as well as a wealth of knowledge on what is being done to address the issue.

Today, one in three American children is either overweight or obese. These numbers are higher among Hispanic, African-American, and low-income communities.  Perhaps more alarming is that without long-term solutions, these children have a 70 percent chance of becoming overweight adults and developing serious chronic diseases, such as diabetes or heart disease. If current trends continue, total U.S. health care costs associated with obesity could grow from $147 billion in 2008 to as much as $957 billion by 2030.

“Addressing the issue of childhood obesity contributes not only to a reduction in health care costs now, but also to those in the future. Truly preventing and better managing childhood obesity requires cooperation and collaboration across all sectors,” said Thorpe. “Today’s discussion underscored the critical importance of fighting childhood obesity and the future health and cost implications we face if we fail to combat this epidemic head-on.”  We were encouraged by the discussion that occurred today and we look forward to more dialogue in the future about how to prevent and manage childhood obesity.