Johnson Foundation to invest in child obesity battle

by Jeff Gelski
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PRINCETON, N.J. — The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation on Wednesday said it will commit at least $500 million over the next five years in the pursuit of reversing the epidemic of childhood obesity in the United States by 2015.

The Foundation said it will focus on improving access to affordable healthy foods and opportunities for safe physical activity in schools and communities. The Foundation said it will emphasize reaching children at greater risk for obesity and related health problems, including African-American, Latino, Native American, Asian American and Pacific Islander children living in low-income communities.

"We have to make it easier for kids to eat well and move more," said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A., president and chief executive officer of the Foundation. "That means more parks and safe places for kids to play, more grocery stores that stock affordable fresh produce, and improved school policies on nutrition and physical education."

More than 33% of children and adolescents, or about 25 million, are overweight or obese in the United States, according to the Foundation. Research shows overweight adolescents have up to an 80% chance of becoming overweight or obese adults, according to the Foundation.

"This is an all-American crisis," Dr. Lavizzo-Mourey said. "It affects all Americans, and it will require all of America working together to turn it around. Our commitment is a call to action for families, schools, government, industry, health care and philanthropy."

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is a philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the quality of the health and health care of all Americans. It has focused on those areas for more than 35 years and has supported efforts to bring supermarkets back to underserved communities and programs to improve nutrition, physical activity and staff wellness in schools nationwide.

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