February 19, 2010

NICHQ Launches Advocacy Website to Train Health Professionals in the Fight Against Childhood Obesity

Site to Focus on Training and Supporting Clinicians to Become Effective Advocates for Community Change

Boston, MA, February 19, 2010—NICHQ today announced the launch of www.nichq.org/advocacy, an online resource funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to provide healthcare professionals with tools, training and support in their work to reverse childhood obesity across the nation.

The new resource is part of NICHQ’s Mobilizing Healthcare Professionals as Community Leaders in the Fight Against Childhood Obesity, a program begun last May with funding from RWJF and in partnership with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the California Medical Association Foundation (CMA-Foundation). The program includes the Be Our Voice campaign to engage healthcare professionals as the voice for children in the fight against childhood obesity. NICHQ will partner with eight sites in seven states—Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina and Texas—to advance campaign efforts.

At www.nichq.org/advocacy, healthcare professionals will find information and tools to assist them in advocating for improvements to their communities’ physical environment. The interactive site will connect healthcare professionals with others looking to make a greater impact, and both can learn from stories of leaders who have been successful in creating positive change in their communities. Users also have the opportunity to ask questions of a panel of advocacy experts.

“We’re delighted to be the ‘go to’ resource for advocacy training and technical assistance for healthcare leaders who recognize that childhood obesity must also be fought through broad changes within the community." said Rachelle Mirkin, project executive of NICHQ. “We look forward to maintaining a dynamic, easy-to-use site that provides healthcare professionals with rich resources to help them advocate on behalf of children.”

The site, in the planning since mid-2009, launches just one week after First Lady Michelle Obama announced her “Let’s Move” campaign and asked all Americans to help reverse the childhood obesity epidemic. The prevention, screening and treatment of childhood obesity is at the top of NICHQ’s Agenda for Improvement, which considers the increase in the prevalence of obesity one of the country’s most alarming public health issues. Over the past three decades, childhood obesity rates have more than tripled. Children in lower-income families and children in the South tend to have higher rates of obesity than do the general population. The epidemic is especially evident among African-American, Hispanic and American Indian populations.

NICHQ has long been a leader in the fight against childhood obesity. Since 2003, NICHQ staff and faculty have worked directly with practices and programs to engage clinicians in community change and improve clinical practice in Maine, New Mexico, Delaware, New York, Washington and Massachusetts. In 2007, NICHQ launched the Childhood Obesity Action Network (COAN) to link clinicians and policy makers, provide tools and materials for clinical and policy change, and promote innovation through social networking.

Founded in 1999, the National Institute for Children’s Health Quality (NICHQ) is an independent, action-oriented organization dedicated to achieving a world in which all children receive the high quality healthcare they need. Led by experienced pediatric healthcare professionals, NICHQ’s mission is to improve children’s health by improving the systems responsible for the delivery of children’s healthcare. For more information, visit www.nichq.org.

About the American Academy of Pediatrics
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org.

About the CMA Foundation
The CMA Foundation is a nonprofit organization that serves as a link between physicians and their communities. The Foundation improves individual and community health through a partnership of leaders in medicine, related health professionals and the community. The CMA Foundation has developed a cutting edge Physician Champion program that can serve as a template for national programs. This innovative approach to obesity prevention has been cited as a “best practice” in the 2006 Institute of Medicine Preventing Childhood Obesity report. For more information about the CMA Foundation, visit www.thecmafoundation.org.

About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and healthcare issues facing our country. As the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and healthcare of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change. For more than 35 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and healthcare of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime. For more information, visit www.rwjf.org.