Community Grants for Obesity Prevention
California, like the rest of the nation, struggles with the social and economic costs of the obesity epidemic. In California, obesity affects 24.8 percent of adults, 17 percent of children 6–11, and 17.6 percent of 12–19 year olds. Hispanic and African-American communities experience higher rates of obesity, and low-income communities suffer from both social and health inequities. To provide leadership and support for the implementation of environmental and policy change strategies across the state, the California Department of Public Health’s (CDPH) California Obesity Prevention Program (COPP) received a five-year grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2008. The goal of the grant is to create communities where healthy eating and physical activity are the easy and preferred choices for all Californians. The most promising strategies for obesity prevention are outlined in the 2010 California Obesity Prevention Plan: A Vision for Tomorrow, Strategic Actions for Today (Plan).
To support implementation of policy and environmental strategies outlined in the Plan and to evaluate their impact, COPP awarded mini-grants to seven local health departments and community organizations across the state. These grantees have delved into activities ranging from the promotion of active transportation and “complete streets” to improving the nutritional content of mobile food truck meals offered to migrant farm workers, increasing the amount and effectiveness of physical activity present in early childhood education settings, and measuring the percentage of healthy versus unhealthy food retailers in rural communities. Grantees are also revising General Plan and zoning policies to enable and promote the use of community gardens to increase residents’ access to fresh fruits and vegetables.
Case studies have been designed to share emerging and best practices in communitywide obesity prevention. A variety of strategies are used to increase physical activity, reduce consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and calorie-dense foods, and increase consumptions of fruits and vegetables. Cutting edge interventions in various community settings have been used by these seven California communities ranging from fayucas (snack trucks) and corner stores to farmers’ markets, parks, and childcare centers.
These case studies are intended to motivate and inspire other communities across California and the nation to engage in the strategies from the Plan to impact obesity.