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Kaiser Permanente Calls for Health Policy Support and Community Advocacy to Curb Childhood Obesity

Healthy Environment and Communities Critical to Wellness Efforts

LOS ANGELES, June 11 /PRNewswire/ -- Kaiser Permanente's presence this week at the National Childhood Obesity Conference in Los Angeles highlights the need for a comprehensive and multi-faceted approach to stop the health crisis caused by childhood obesity. More than 15 million children are obese or overweight in the United States, contributing to skyrocketing type 2 diabetes rates and more than $14 billion in health care expenses.

In multiple conference sessions, representatives from Kaiser Permanente are illustrating how community-based policy and environmental changes are complementing clinical prevention strategies to address the obesity epidemic. These sessions will showcase solutions that are making a difference in communities across the country.

"We are encouraged by the increasing realization that health reform needs to be about more than coverage. Real reform needs to emphasize prevention and wellness if we are really to address the major drivers of disease, and health care costs," said Raymond J. Baxter, Ph.D., senior vice president, Community Benefit, Research and Health Policy at Kaiser Permanente. "As a nation, we need to improve access to care, reduce costs and ensure quality care for all, while strengthening the ways our communities, schools and workplaces can, in fact, keep us healthy."

Research has shown that where people live affects both childhood obesity rates and chronic health conditions at all ages, including type 2 diabetes, asthma and heart disease, which often accompany obesity. Primary prevention often averts the onset of disease and results in cost savings and the alleviation of pressure on the health care system.

A holistic view of prevention needs to target policies and other community changes that can create more opportunities for healthy eating and active living. These strategies include:

  • Improving access to healthy food in schools and in neighborhoods
  • Increasing the quality and quantity of physical education
  • Ensuring that all families have access to safe and welcoming parks and playgrounds, and
  • Creating safe routes for children to walk or bike to school.

"Our society must improve opportunities for choosing health, especially for those of us facing the most challenging obstacles," said Dwayne C. Proctor, Ph.D., with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which in 2007 launched a major campaign to end childhood obesity by 2015. "We must acknowledge that some families and communities have a higher hill to climb than others. We cannot build a healthier America if we leave them behind."

As part of its more than $1 billion commitment to improve the health of the communities it serves, Kaiser Permanente has targeted children's health and childhood obesity through:

  • Supporting comprehensive, place-based community health initiatives focused on healthy eating and active living in 39 communities across the country
  • Training more than 1,000 community-based providers on clinical best practices for childhood obesity prevention and physician advocacy
  • Creating 30 farmers markets ( at or near Kaiser Permanente facilities in six states, and urging neighborhood markets and corner stores to offer and prominently display more fresh produce
  • Offering Educational Theatre Program ( performances about healthy living to thousands of schools around the U.S., reaching 13 million children since 1985.

Find out more about Kaiser Permanente's efforts to promote healthy communities at:

About Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America's leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, our mission is to provide high-quality, affordable health care services to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve 8.6 million members in nine states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. For more information, go to:

SOURCE Kaiser Permanente
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