Giving Compass' Take:

• The Center for High Impact Philanthropy analyzed methods of preventing childhood obesity and found successful approaches. This PDF contains examples of projects that made an impact and can be used to inform further donor efforts. 

• How can donors best leverage their money to make an impact on childhood obesity? What partnerships can maximize impact? 

• Learn why obesity rates continue to climb.

Across the United States, donors are working on multiple aspects of the fight to prevent childhood obesity. While this guide features approaches implemented nationwide, we have focused on examples of their implementation in Philadelphia, as a city that may serve as a national model due to its decreases in childhood obesity among some of the most affected populations (African-American, Hispanic, and low-income youth).

With the rise in obesity levels in recent years, much attention has been focused on understanding factors that cause obesity. At the highest level, the direct cause of obesity is an energy imbalance: more calories consumed than expended.

Ensuring that calories consumed are equal to calories expended is a simple equation. However, maintaining that balance can be tough, especially for individuals living in low-income, under-resourced communities. While obesity was once thought to be little more than an unfortunate failure of will and self-restraint, it is clear that the epidemic has much deeper and more complex roots.

Transportation, physical environment, access to healthy foods, advertising, and education all play a role in an individual’s ability to maintain her energy balance. These factors are even more complex for children, who often have little or no control over choices that affect their health. Children from low-income families experience especially significant barriers to maintaining their energy balance and remaining healthy.

Donors can help bring an end to the childhood obesity epidemic by implementing one or more of the following interlocking prevention strategies:

Start early (earlier than you think):

Early-life influences, beginning in the womb and continuing through the first few years of life, affect the trajectory of weight gain and body mass throughout a person’s life.

Increase access to healthy foods and physical activity:

By investing in programs that increase access to healthy foods and physical activity options, donors can ensure that low-income children have as equal an opportunity to lead healthy lifestyles as their peers in wealthier communities.

Enable healthy eating and physical activity choices:

By investing in programs that enable healthy choices, donors can children learn about and adopt healthy habits that will stay with them throughout the course of their lives.

Read the full article about childhood obesity prevention at The Center for High Impact Philanthropy.