City Leaders Recognized at Childhood Obesity Prevention Summit

By Sharma, Lisa L.; Andrews, Leon T., Jr. | Nation's Cities Weekly, May 18, 2009 | Go to article overview

City Leaders Recognized at Childhood Obesity Prevention Summit


Sharma, Lisa L., Andrews, Leon T., Jr., Nation's Cities Weekly


More than 200 city and state policymakers gathered recently in Washington, D.C., to attend the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's second Childhood Obesity Prevention Summit. During the event, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) discussed the federal health and wellness policy agenda and mayors were presented with Healthy Community Leadership Awards for their outstanding contributions to community wellness.

At a May 7 awards dinner, a distinguished group of public health experts and leaders honored New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Columbia, Mo., Mayor Darwin Hindman and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom for their efforts to promote healthy eating and active living as they seek to reduce childhood obesity in their communities. Also receiving awards were Hamilton County, Tenn., Mayor Claude Ramsey and Rio Grande City Consolidated Independent School District Superintendent Roel Gonzalez.

Quality of Life Costs "Staggering"

NLC President Kathleen Novak, mayor of Northglenn, Colo., presented the award to Mayor Hindman for his work in promoting non-motorized transportation options.

"We have a serious crisis with chronic disease resulting from lack of recreation," said Hindman. "The cost in quality of life is staggering. It makes the money we invest in getting people to get out and be active look puny."

Mayor Hindman's leadership in the acquisition of a $25 million federal grant to fund the development of a walking and biking trail network helped connect the city's neighborhoods to businesses, schools, shopping centers and recreation areas.

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"The most significant thing is that it gets people active and it improves their health," said Hindman.

"The rise in childhood obesity rates has a major impact on local health systems, governments and quality of life," said Mayor Novak. "NLC's partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation enables us to identify and promote solutions to build healthier communities."

Multi-Sector Approaches Needed

Burnsville, Minn., Mayor Elizabeth Kautz presented the award to Mayor Newsom for his leadership in improving healthy eating behaviors, increasing access to healthy foods and promoting physical activity among children and youth. Mayor Newsom asserted that "there is no magic bullet" that will reverse rising obesity rates, a consistent theme repeated throughout the summit.

Mayor Ramsey echoed the message that action is required across a broad range of issues, stakeholders and policy areas. …

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