Does Philly Have the Answer to Obesity?

The city's approach has managed to reduce rates of obesity among schoolchildren, with impressive results among African-American boys.

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A study published this week in Preventing Chronic Disease shows that Philadelphia has managed to significantly reduce the rate of obesity among its schoolchildren, with some of the largest declines among African-American boys and Hispanic girls.

The Huffington Post's Yael Lehmann and Larry Soler say we should pay closer attention to the comprehensive approach of the city, which could potentially serve as a model for reversing the dangerous and expensive problem nationwide:

Since 1999, Philadelphia has participated in the federal SNAP-Ed program, which provides nutrition education programming in schools, to encourage children to eat healthier foods and understand nutrition. In 2004, the school district's leadership voted to implement strong healthy vending machine standards.

Under the leadership of Mayor Michael Nutter, Philadelphia enacted new policies that support healthier eating and increased physical activity, such as a menu labeling law for fast food restaurants and Complete Streets, which makes it easier for residents to commute by bike or on foot.

And in 2004, thanks to the leadership of Pennsylvania State Rep. Dwight Evans, new financing was made available to grocers willing to open their doors in lower-income neighborhoods through the Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative.

This study proves what we've believed all along: that a comprehensive approach is needed to address the complex problem of obesity. Nationally, we are building more groceries in lower-income neighborhoods, ensuring that nearly a million kids in childcare settings are being provided healthy snacks and physical activity, and encouraging national chains to reduce calories and fat.

We are bringing together government and the private sector to attack the issue from every angle, and that is a key reason why we are beginning to see progress.

Read more at the Huffington Post.

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