A Houston/Harris County Childhood Obesity Prevention Collaborative

October 25, 2013  /  Issue XIV

In This Issue

  Follow us on Twitter        Like us on Facebook  

Contact Us
Community/Stakeholder Engagement Team

Susan Lackey, MPH
Gracey Malacara
Jennifer Mineo, DrPH


2525 Robinhood St.,

Suite 1100

Houston, TX 77005


fax: 281.953.7477



forumSave the Date
HLM Community Forum in Precinct 3
November 2013

Keep a look out for information about HLM's upcoming Forum in Precinct 3.
Join your neighbors in learning what Healthy Living Matters has heard from your community. Participate in small group conversations and provide feedback on ways to improve the health of our children through policy change. Together, we can make a difference in our children's lives!

$20 gift cards are available for the first 100 attendees

RSVP for the Community Forums at info@healthylivingmatters.net or 281.953.7451 with your name and organization

summitSave the Date 
HLM Summit
January 2014

Watch for more information about HLM's Summit at the end of January 2014. We are looking forward to sharing more on the work we have done! 


highlightLocal Activity Highlight

Houston Food Bank Social Services Outreach Program opening a storefront at Joe V's Smart Shop, 5609 Uvalde Rd, Houston, TX 77049 to provide access and assistance applying for social services and other resources. Hoping to provide more convenience, this is the first resource center outside of the Houston Food Bank's main facility.

AHKFeatured Resources - Action for Healthy Kids Webinar     


Action for Healthy Kids provides school health leaders and volunteers with the resources they needed to support healthy schools and healthy kids. Action for Healthy Kids:

  • Educate school leaders, public health officials, parents and students to increase their knowledge of nutrition and physical activity
  • Mobilize parents and volunteers to get programs in schools that will promote healthy lifestyles and wellness policies
  • Transform schools to provide healthier foods, physical education and comprehensive physical activity for all students

Action for Healthy Kids is hosting a Parent Leadership Series webinar, "How to Create a Healthier School Food Culture," that will explore the benefits of building a healthy school food culture for our children-from the second they walk in the front door to the minute they leave and beyond. This webinar will provide project ideas on ways to impact the health of our school communities with healthy celebrations, nutrition education and more.


Tuesday, October 29th

12:00pm-1:15pm CST 

Register Here 


SRTSFeatured Resources - Safe Routes to School National Partnership Webinar for Parents and Community Members


Shared Use: Is It In You? Engaging School Administrators in the Shared Use of School facilities to Increase Physical Activity Opportunities


Schools serve as anchors for the community-a safe haven for children during the school day, but unfortunately, children cannot benefit from the resources and facilities after school hours. Shared use allows schools to play an increasing role in fighting childhood obesity by increasing access to physical activity opportunities offered at schools.


This webinar for parents and community members explores methods for engaging school board members, school administrators and principals on the practices of shared use and how it can help fight and reverse childhood obesity. During the webinar, the Safe Routes to School National Partnership will provide resources to help parents and community members discuss shared use options with key school personnel.


Speakers include:

  • Mikaela Randolph, shared use campaign manager, Safe Routes to School National Partnership
  • Teresa Dahl, director Community School Park Program, People for Parks
  • Tracy Bartley, director Community School Park Program, People for Parks


Thursday, November 7th  

1:00pm-2:00pm CST

Register Here 

minuteCPT Member Minute
Nanette Van Gend, Center for Houston's Future


At the September Community Planning Team meeting, Nanette Van Gend from the Center for Houston's Future presented on the Center's work and their dynamic approach that strives to address the region's toughest problems. The Center for Houston's Future work strategically to bring together leadership, impactful research, and actionable tactics in order to support the growth of an internationally renowned region.


Nanette explained the Center's holistic approach to research and policy outcomes. Understanding that challenging issues do not exist within isolation, the Center for Houston's Future focuses on three areas: People, Places, and Access. Within these areas, data is collected and visualized in an Annual Community Indicator Report. This report presents health indicators data from the Region in order to project future trends and areas of concern for the region. The Center does not advocate for specific solutions but strives to provide critical data that can be used to inform policy decisions that will make the Houston region competitive and attractive to national and international talent.


In the future, the Center plans to produce an electronic publication that can be used to integrate up-to-date data and track trends more frequently than the printed publication. Electronic PDFs of past Annual Community Indicator Reports are available here.

cf2HLM Precinct 2 Community Forum at La Porte Neighborhood Centers, Inc. 



On Thursday, September 17, Healthy Living Matters (HLM) hosted a community forum at the La Porte Neighborhood Centers in Precinct 2 in conjunction with their monthly food fair. HLM hosted two community forums concurrently-one in English and one in Spanish. Attendees learned about HLM's assessment work and proposed strategies to curb childhood obesity in Houston/Harris County.


During the latter part of the meeting, participants prioritized policy strategies around nutrition and physical activity for children, themed around EAT, PLAY and LEARN. Over 80 participants prioritized policies that will be used in the development of the HLM Community Action Plan.  


As a result of the information presented at the Community Forum, one grandmother shared with us that she became inspired to talk to her grandson's school. She said, "My grandson's school doesn't have plain water for the kids. They only have sweetened iced tea. I'm going to go talk to them and see if they can get rid of the sweetened iced tea and give the kids water." This is one of the many successes from the La Porte forum, and we feel confident that HLM now has many more on the ground ambassadors championing childhood obesity solutions in Houston/Harris County!  



cf3HLM Precinct 1 Community Forum at Finnigan Park well attended! 

On Tuesday, October 8, Healthy Living Matters hosted a community forum at the Finnigan Park Community Center in Precinct 1. Over 100 attendees came to learn about HLM's work and hear about the strategies that HLM has proposed in order to curb childhood obesity in Houston/Harris County. Dr. Umair Shah, Director of HCPHES, opened the meeting, followed by a welcome by community activist Reverend James Caldwell and HLM Executive Committee Chair Dr. Ann Smith Barnes.  


Participants heard results from HLM's assessments and community engagements presented by Rocaille Roberts, Direct of Policy and Planning for HCPHES. Like other community forums, attendees reviewed nutrition and physical activity policies categorized as EAT, PLAY and LEARN. In addition, two HLM Youth Ambassadors spoke about their time at the Safe Routes to Schools Conference in August and their work with HLM. When asked if change is possible, a Wheatley High School student emphasized the importance of involving key decision makers by stating, " Change is possible. You just have to know someone in government or in important places--someone that can support you with what you are doing."  


Reverend Caldwell closed the meeting by emphasizing the importance of good health for all children in order to create a thriving community and by empowering residents to make healthy changes where children eat, learn and play.  


Listen to a brief radio clip from Rocaille Roberts explaining the severity of the obesity problem here


youthHLM Youth Ambassador on panel at upcoming event 


HLM Youth Ambassador and Rising Star Award Finalist, Caitlyn Floyd will be featured on a panel at the upcoming event, Small Voice, Big Change: Collaborating with Pediatric Patients to Impact Healthcare. Caitlin's understanding that policy can drive health changes and her leadership in healthy school programs has raised awareness of childhood obesity at a local level and has made steps towards reducing the epidemic. We hope that you join us at the event to support Caitlyn!  


Friday, November 1


Community Health Choice

2636 South Loop West, Suite 700 - Houston, TX 77054

texasTexas Obesity News 

Houston, Tx, announces plans to adopt city-wide Complete Streets policy

The city of Houston, TX, cast its vote for safer, more vibrant streets yesterday when Mayor Annise Parker announced her intention to sign an executive order creating a city-wide Complete Streets policy.


The mayor's Complete Streets and Transportation Plan will make Houston's streets safer, more accessible and more convenient for motorists, public transit riders, pedestrians, people of all abilities and bicyclists. The new policy, detailed in a draft executive order from the mayor, will be implemented over time as improvements to existing roadways and redevelopment occur.


"Houston is a city that embraces its diversity," the mayor said in a statement. "This Complete Streets policy applies the same approach to our mobility system by meeting the diverse needs of all Houstonians while also creating more accessible and attractive connections to residential areas, parks, businesses, restaurants, schools and employment centers." Full Article 



Houston: The Surprising Contender in America's Urban Revival 

For years, few Houstonians paid much attention to the city's East End. Home to German immigrants in the early days, the area morphed into a destination for Mexican immigrants, and today it continues to be overwhelmingly Hispanic. Despite being prime real estate-it sits on the edge of downtown-the East End is sparsely populated, and few outsiders visit it except to grab a bite at Ninfa's, the legendary Mexican restaurant where some Houstonians are convinced fajitas were invented.


The East End has a broad mix of housing, from shotgun shacks that rent for $300 a month to new townhomes worth upward of $300,000. Still, huge swaths of its 16 square miles are empty, with nearly a third of the land considered industrial and a quarter of it entirely undeveloped. As a result, there's wide open prairie just a short distance from the city's skyscrapers and stadiums.


That's about to change. Next year, a new four-mile light rail line will open and run through the heart of the community. More than $7 million has been spent on sidewalks and other pedestrian improvements. A newly opened pedestrian "esplanade" featuring cafe seating and dozens of stalls for vendors just opened in the center of Navigation Boulevard, the community's Main Street. Parks and trails are set for a makeover. A new cultural center is in the works. Public art is starting to dot the area. Officials are even planning for the possibility of a streetcar to link the northern reaches of the East End to the rest of the transit network. Full Article 

South Texas Academy students, staff talk childhood obesity

The next generation of medical professionals had an opportunity to learn about the dangers of childhood obesity during a film screening and panel discussion at the Regional Academic Health Center in Harlingen on Tuesday afternoon.


"Obesity is a very large issue. It's underlying all of the health conditions that we are seeing and that we have more of than the rest of the country," said Belinda Reininger, a professor at the Brownsville Regional Campus of the University of Texas School of Public Health and one of five medical professional panelists.


"Even among our adults and among our children we are seeing higher rates of obesity. For the adult population we have a little over 80 percent of us are either overweight or obese," Reininger said. "There is cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, certain types of cancers are related to obesity, so a number of very expensive issues that can hurt families and impact economics." Full Article 

Houston teacher fights obesity, earns laurels from superchef Jamie Oliver's revolution army

Through the years, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has become the voice of the Food Revolution, a movement that seeks to transform the way people eat through educational programs, activities and advocacy. He's used his name and image to change how Americans view food.

As part of his initiative, he also takes it upon himself to spotlight the work of those he refers to as Food Revolution Heroes. These champs are those who embody the spirit of the Food Revolution, those who combine their own passions and expertise to educate others about fresh, healthy food.


Furthering his new Get Food Education in Every School campaign, Oliver has just announced his latest group of heroes. One of them - Kellie Karavias - is a Houston local.


Before becoming HISD's first elementary culinary arts educator, Karavias, today a teacher at Gregory-Lincoln Education Center, watched as obesity and health problems in schools spiraled out of control. When there wasn't a viable solution readily available, she created one. Full Article 



Time and Place to Reimagine Houston Transit is Here

METRO wants your help redesigning its transit network.  This blank-sheet approach is a challenge few cities have taken on and one that cannot be done without the community's input. 


The 18-month-long project, spearheaded by Board Member Christof Spieler, seeks to transform transit. In a recent episode of METRO Matters, Spieler said that now, as METRO prepares to open new rail, is a great time to rethink transit. "The goal is to come up with an easier system to use that benefits and carries more people."  


The new website includes: general project overview and schedule, interactive service-planning tools, presentations and meeting documents, a comment page and a survey.  METRO wants community members to take the online survey as their feedback is critical to the process. The survey invites input about choices and priorities, and tells METRO about the choices being made. Responses will help the authority better understand and determine priorities for the region's transit system. Website Here 



Texas Obesity Rates to Nearly Double by 2030 

FORT WORTH (AP/CBSDFW.COM) - A health group predicts that obesity rates in Texas will nearly double, and more than half the people in the state will be obese in less than 20 years.


The predictions, released Tuesday by Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, are the same for the most of the country. They predict that by 2030 more than half of the people in 39 states will be obese.  The two organizations regularly report on obesity to raise awareness, and they rely on government figures.


But in this case, their dismal forecast goes beyond the 42 percent national obesity level that federal health officials project by 2030.


Mississippi is expected to retain its crown as the fattest state in the nation for at least two more decades. The report predicts 67 percent of that state's adults will be obese by 2030; that would be an astounding increase from Mississippi's current 35 percent obesity rate. Full Article 

Plan Healthy, Texas 


Healthy, Texas, is a place where active living and healthy eating are the Texas way of life. It is a place where individuals, organizations and communities work together to create an environment where healthy living is the easy choice.


Currently, the number of overweight and obese Texans is growing at an alarming rate. No single program can address this epidemic alone - it's going to take a statewide effort to increase regular

physical activities and improve nutrition for all Texans. And you can help! We need communities, employers, schools and individuals to work together to start making real change happen.


No matter who you are, you can build a plan for action that will make a difference in your community. Give us some details below about who you are and what you want to do, and we will build a plan just for you. We need you to help make Healthy, Texas, a reality.



nationalNational Obesity News 

Childhood obesity prevention program underway at county schools 

LUPTON - The United States ranks among the top 10 countries across the globe in adult obesity.
Alabama alone shows obesity rates of more than 30 percent in adult obesity and has the sixth highest overweight levels for children at 36 percent.

According to a Youth Risk Behavior survey on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, Alabama tied with Kentucky and Oklahoma in 2011 for the highest in obesity among high school students at 17 percent.

But, there is hope in decreasing that number.   


In an effort to help lower childhood obesity rates, Emma Anne Hallman, who is a Body Quest educator with the Nutrition Education Program of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System of Marion and Walker counties, visits with schools in and out of the county. Full Article 


Signs of Progress on Childhood Obesity 

After decades of unrelenting increases in rates of childhood obesity, we're finally beginning to see rates decline in some cities, counties, and states. This article includes a visual representation of progress across the country, and profiles of places leading the movement.

"Nearly seven years ago, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation set a goal of reversing the childhood obesity epidemic by 2015, and we committed $500 million to the cause. It's an ambitious goal, to be sure-but these signs of progress strengthen my confidence that, together, we can do it!"
--Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, MBA, RWJF President and CEO

A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows widespread progress in reducing obesity among preschool children enrolled in federal health and nutrition programs. This is the first time in decades that rates have dropped among young children from low-income families, who typically have higher rates of childhood obesity.


Among the places with declines, the U.S. Virgin Islands had the greatest decrease, from 13.6 percent in 2008 to 11 percent in 2011. Florida, Georgia, Missouri, New Jersey, and South Dakota saw rates drop by at least one percentage point during that period. Rates remained stable in 20 states and Puerto Rico and increased in only three states - Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee. Full Article 



McDonald's plan to remove Happy Meal soda clarified


WASHINGTON, Oct. 11 (UPI) -- Food advocates and McDonald's released an updated agreement clarifying the chain will phase out listing soda on the kids' meal section of menu boards.


Margo G. Wootan, nutrition policy director at the Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington, said on Sept. 26, McDonald's, in partnership with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation -- founded by the American Heart Association and the Clinton Foundation as a response to the growing rate of childhood obesity -- announced that it would cease featuring and promoting soda as a beverage option with kids' meals.  


"The fine print of the agreement, however, disclosed that while McDonald's would not depict soda through graphics on the Happy Meal section of the menu, it would still list soda as a Happy Meal option on menu boards," Wootan said in a statement. Full Article  



Quantifying the Cost of Physical Inactivity


The scientific evidence is clear -- regular physical activity reduces the risk of developing diabetes, high blood pressure and some cancers. It also lowers blood pressure, helps build and maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints and promotes psychological wellbeing. And a physically inactive population costs money!


We have developed a very easy-to-use tool that can provide an estimate of the financial cost of physically inactive people to a particular community, city, state or business. We also provide companion resources and information you need to re-allocate resources and plan for healthier workplaces and communities that are more supportive of physical activity. Full Website 

Wouldn't It Be Great if Athletes Were Health Heroes?


When I see top athletes hawking junk foods and sugary beverages, it makes me want to blow a whistle and call a foul. When men and women who are at the peak of their athletic prowess push products that do nothing to contribute to peak performance, our nation's kids are getting the wrong messages.


A new study by the Rudd Center on Food Policy & Obesity at Yale University shows that the vast majority of foods and beverages touted by top athletes are unhealthy products, like sports drinks, soft drinks, and fast food. It also reveals that adolescents ages 12 to 17 see the most TV ads for foods endorsed by athletes. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Rudd Foundation funded the study, which appears in the November edition of Pediatrics.


So what effect might this have on kids? Full Article 


ING U.S. Awards More Than $100,000 in Grants to Combat Childhood Obesity 


ATLANTA, PRNewswire/ -- ING U.S. today announced that it has awarded 59 schools from 26 states across the U.S. with up to $2,500 grants to help students combat childhood obesity by getting them more active through school-based running programs. Through its ING Run for Something Better School Awards Program, retirement, investment and insurance leader ING U.S., in partnership with the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD), is helping to introduce kindergarten through eighth-grade students across the country to the benefits of running and making healthy lifestyle choices.


The chosen schools will receive up to $2,500 in funding to support a minimum of an eight-week running program that will conclude with a culminating running event in celebration of the students' achievements. Schools will receive $1,000 immediately, with additional funds granted based on the participation in the program. Schools can download unique running lesson plans developed by AAHPERD. Other program materials, such as sample eight-week training plans, distance logs and a running journal, will aid in the development of running skills and preparation for a culminating running event.   


"ING U.S. is pleased to provide grants to schools across the nation to help them engage students in healthy lifestyles changes, personal development, goal-setting and group participation," said Rhonda Mims, president of the ING U.S. Foundation and head of ING U.S.'s Office of Corporate Responsibility. Full Article 



Hip-hop health, a 'party with a purpose' 


NEW YORK (CNN) - The classroom walls tremble as a room full of 8-year-olds bob heads, shrug shoulders and wriggle around in sync with the thud of the bass.

An emcee runs up to the front of the room and yells "hip," to which the children respond, "hop." And with that, the "party" has begun.


This is obviously not a typical class. It is more like what one organizer calls, "a party with a purpose:" a program called Hip Hop Public Health, which uses music as a vehicle to communicate health messages to children.


"Music is an extremely powerful medium," said Dr. Olajide Williams, founder of the program. "Great poets have described music as being the bridge between heaven and Earth, but I see music as the bridge between health education and the streets." Full Article 



Using Safe Routes to School to Fight Childhood Obesity in Mississippi

Mississippi has long topped the list of states with the highest rates of childhood (and adult) obesity. In 2007, 44.4 percent of children ages 10 to 17 were overweight or obese.

"It's not secret that Mississippi is the most unhealthy and obese state in the nation," says Jay Thompson, an advocate in the state who works for the Safe Routes to School National Partnership.  "In the past, the culture in Mississippi has led to sedentary lifestyles. Food is often the nucleus of everything here, and the selections are rarely healthy foods. It's typically been the culture of the South
To help create a healthier culture, leaders across the state are working together to promote physical activity and healthy eating. The Safe Routes to School State Network Project is one example. For more on the project, read the Progress Report.

The project aims to ensure that states use federal funds for Safe Routes to School projects to provide street-scale improvements such as sidewalks and bicycle lanes, and to enact policies that promote walking, bicycling, and other physical activity, especially in low-income communities. The Safe Routes to School National Partnership manages the state network project in Mississippi and nationally. The project is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.  Full Report 

eventsUpcoming Events

How to Create a Healthier School Food Culture-Parent Leadership Series  

Tuesday, October 29th, 12:00pm-1:00pm CST 



Children at Risk Children's Law Symposium: The School yard and the Prison yard

Thursday, October 31st, 8:30am-2:30pm

United Way of Greater Houston

50 Waugh Drive, Houston TX 77007


School Breakfast...for Learning, Health, and Bottom Line 

Wednesday, November 6th, 3:00pm-4:00pm CST 




Obesity Week 2013
November 11th-16th, 2013
Atlanta, GA
Georgia World Congress Center
285 Andrew Young International Blvd., NW
More Information 

How to Add More Activity into the School Day
Tuesday, November 12th, 2:00pm-3:15pm CST


Southern Obesity Summit

November 17th-19th

Nashville, TN

Omni Nashville Downtown, 150 Third Avenue, Nashville TB 37201

More Information