Location: Compton, California
According to the World Health Organization, “childhood obesity is one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century.” In 2010, 42 million children under the age of 5 all over the world were overweight. Obesity affects not only their childhood, but these children typically grow up to remain obese and ultimately may develop diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular conditions.
In Compton, California, which has Los Angeles County’s highest rates of overweight and obesity, INMED Partnerships for Children launched the Community-Level Obesity Reduction project to engage parents, schools and local service providers to help combat childhood obesity on multiple fronts.
The project educated and organized parents, and collaborated with the Nutrition Services Department in the Compton Unified School District to create healthier nutrition policies for the school district. In evaluating parents’ concerns, INMED learned that many children need greater access to healthy food choices—whether at school or elsewhere in the community—and working with schools and the school district is a significant step forward to achieve that goal.
Notable improvements were made in the local school food environment. For example, all 24 local elementary schools now have a salad bar one day a week, with plans for expansion. Four schools have established “refueling stations,” where students can receive a piece of fruit, free of charge, during morning recess. Multiple schools have replaced some snack bar foods with healthier options, and others have instituted non-food-related fundraising activities.
With funding from the Pan American Health and Education Foundation for an innovative pilot project called Lyrics for Life. This project was implemented in the Trenchtown community of Kingston, Jamaica, and was a collaborative effort among local schools, government ministries, foundations and private sector partners to reduce obesity and form a solid foundation for future healthy lifestyles.
The Lyrics for Life project incorporated classroom nutrition education with the cultivation of school gardens to promote positive choices like eating fresh fruits and vegetables and participating in physical activity in schools and the community. The program built on Jamaica’s rich musical heritage by promoting healthy lifestyles through the use of music and lyrics developed by participating students.