These efforts should aim to increase access to culturally and linguistically appropriate nutritional and physical activity information and skills and should support community-based collaborative programs that address the inequities in obesity rates between populations.

The communities themselves, meanwhile, need to involve all segments of the local population in developing both community-wide interventions and those that focus on high-risk populations. Furthermore, local communities—with the assistance of state and federal governments, nonprofit organizations, and the private sector—need to grapple with the underlying and long-standing socioeconomic barriers that result in limited opportunities for physical activity (e.g., safe parks and playgrounds) and affordable healthful foods (e.g., produce markets or large grocery stores). Opportunities to foster such coalitions and to develop effective programs for high-risk populations will be widened if there is grassroots participation by the citizens most affected by the problem.

Next Steps for Community Stakeholders

Many community organizations are currently involved in efforts to improve the well-being of their children and youth regarding a number of health and safety concerns, such as tobacco and alcohol abuse, sexually transmitted diseases, pedestrian and bike safety, and prevention of motor

BOX 6-2

Kids Off the Couch

Kids Off the Couch is a community collaborative pilot project in Modesto, California, that works with parents and caregivers to prevent obesity in children up to 5 years of age. The project’s goal is to influence behavioral changes in food selection and physical activity among parents and primary caregivers. The program provides parents and caregivers with:

  • Information on the risks of childhood obesity

  • Tools to assist their children in achieving normal growth and healthy development

  • Hands-on demonstrations on how to prepare healthful and tasty foods that families will eat and enjoy

  • Instruction on how to engage their families in physical activity.

This project is a collaborative effort of numerous partners including the local school system, health services agency, hospitals, and health clubs; the American Cancer Society; Blue Cross of California; and the University of California Cooperative Extension.

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