A Houston/Harris County Childhood Obesity Prevention Collaborative

November 15, 2013  /  Issue XV

  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



cptCPT Member Highlight
Congratulations to CPT Member Tiffany Thomas on her recent win as Trustee Position 7 with Alief's ISD!

localLocal Activity Highlights

Brighter Bites

Brighter Bites, a program designed to provide elementary school students and their familires with fresh produce at no cost, recently expanded to Kashmere Gardens Elementary School. Its founder, Lisa Helfman, member of the Healthy Living Matters Community Planning team, reported that over half of the families at Kashmere Gardens have signed up for the programs. Visit here for more information.



Houston Food Bank 
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.

cfp3Precinct 3 Community Forum Highlights


On Tuesday, November 12
th, HLM held the last of four community forums at the Alief Family YMCA.  Around 90 community members and stakeholders, including 15 youth came out on the first cold night of the season to learn about HLM's assessment work and help prioritize policy recommendations. Participants broke into small groups to discuss policy options and to select their top concerns in the policy categories of EAT, PLAY, and LEARN.

Youth attended the forum and shared their thoughts on what would make the greatest difference in their community. The youth felt strongly that more community nutrition education was needed. One participant said "People go for what's fast and cheap. We need to teach them how to make healthier choices." Many were also enthusiastic about policies that addressed community gardens, park programming, and healthy role modeling for young children. To these students, public safety and animal control was an important factor when deciding to exercise outside. "I don't want to see dogs off leashes. That is really scary!"


The forum was closed by Liz Ramos, Senior Director of Member Service and Youth Development at the Alief YMCA. She thanked participants for their role in creating the Healthy Living Matters Community Action Plan and urged attendees to make healthy changes where they live and work.

Special thanks to Kevin Kebede, Liz Ramos, and all the Alief YMCA staff for their hospitality and use of the YMCA facility.


savedateHLM Summit 2014 Save the Dates


HLM Partners: We hope you join us in January 2014 for the HLM Summit. The information is listed below. Please save the dates and look for a formal invitation to follow. Contact us at info@healthylivingmatters.net or 281.953.7451 with any questions. We hope to see you there!



lawsympChildren at Risk's Annual Children's Law Symposium 


On October 31, Dr. Robert Ogilvie, VP for Strategic Engagement at ChangeLab Solutions, gave the keynote address at Children at Risk's annual Children's Law Symposium. The event was co-sponsored by Healthy Living Matters.


In his presentation on Land Use Policies and Obesity Prevention, Dr. Ogilvie discussed how the man-made environment we encounter every day- the schools, our workplace, and our homes- influences our health. In these different environments there are policies such as local laws, employment policies, and school codes that guide how we live. Since these policies can change the environment and affect our choices and behavior, they are a great way to promote healthy communities.  In order to be healthy and have healthy communities, we must have health in policies so that the "healthy choice is always the easy choice."  


Dr. Ogilvie presented several examples of communities that are currently implementing healthy policies. He highlighted complete street policies, shared use agreements, and healthy procurement policies in Seattle, WA, and Baltimore, MD. As a result of incorporating these healthy policies, these cities have seen economic and health boosts in the community.  


To learn more about ChangeLab Solution's work on childhood obesity, visit their website.

grantHLM Grant Awardees 


As part of HLM's community outreach, HLM designed a grant opportunity to support healthy ideas for addressing childhood obesity in Houston/Harris County. Any community organization was eligible to apply. After an extensive review process, four groups were awarded. 


  • Texas Area Health Education Center is addressing access to healthy food by increasing enrollment in SNAP. Currently, not as many families are in enrolled in the program that can be. They are planning to partner with local organizations in the Kashmere Garden area to offer opportunities to join SNAP. Of note, access to SNAP benefits has been indicated as an important policy strategy during the HLM Community Forums.
  • Avenue CDC is planning to build a trail next to Ketelsen Elementary School where children will be able to play and families will be able to enjoy physical activity together outside of school hours.
  • Recipe for Success is implementing a food nutrition and education program at several elementary schools in the area.
  • Pasadena ISD is working to increase physical activity and healthy eating across all their campuses with the Eat Three Program, focused on exercise, nutrition, and education.


Congratulations to the groups!

toolkitFeatured Resource - Toolkit from Leadership for Healthy Communities 


Leadership for Healthy Communities has created a toolkit to advise community members on methods for living healthier in our communities. The kit, Obesity Prevention on a Budget: Low and No Cost Policy Options to Increase Healthy Eating and Active Living, presents a range of budget-conscious policy approaches to reducing local obesity rates by increasing opportunities for healthy eating and physical activity.

The toolkit focuses on the use of existing resources and partnerships for making changes possible, acknowledging that the economic climate has made creating impact more challenging. This toolkit can be used by community members and policymakers take practical steps towards sustainable solutions. It includes examples and case studies that demonstrate community-based successes. The toolkit can be found here.



presentationsFeatured Resource - Presentations from the 2013 Childhood Obesity Prevention Summit


Nearly 300 state and local policymakers and childhood obesity prevention advocates gathered for the 2013 Childhood Obesity Prevention Summit, which was held on September 30 to October 1 in Baltimore, Md. This year's summit, "The Future of Childhood Obesity: State and Local Success to National Progress," focused on how childhood obesity prevention policies at the local and state level are influencing national efforts to promote healthy eating and active living.


The summit opened with a keynote speech from U.S. Representative Elijah Cummings, J.D., followed by a plenary session that explored policies pursued by cities and states on the cutting edge of advancing healthy eating and active living strategies. Session speakers included Under Secretary Kevin Concannon, M.S.W., U.S. Department of Agriculture; James Krieger, M.D., M.P.H, of Seattle and King County, Washington; and Donald Shell, M.D., Director of Cancer and Chronic Disease, Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Other speakers and panelists throughout the summit included representatives from federal, state and local entities, as well as leaders from academic, professional and community-based organizations. Workshops addressed, among other topics, food marketing to children, food access in under-served communities, community development and design strategies, school-based policies and socioeconomic disparities in policy implementation. A recap can be found here.


We have highlighted some presentations below. 


texasTexas Obesity News 

Combs Presents Texas' Obesity Prevention Efforts 

Texas Comptroller Susan Combs highlighted obesity prevention efforts in Texas at the eighth annual School Health and Wellness Institute, in Anchorage, Alaska on Oct. 31. The event's theme highlighted the link between student nutrition and academic achievement. As Texas Agriculture Commissioner, Combs spearheaded student nutrition policy reform in Texas, and as Texas Comptroller, Combs brought to light the staggering cost of obesity to Texas businesses. Link to Combs' "Texas Game Plan to Cut Obesity Down to Size" here. Full Article 


"Live a More Colorful Life" Campaign Promotes Healthy Eating

In Tarrant County, federal grant money is helping to improve the diet and health of area residents.


In the past five years, Tarrant County Public Health (TCPH) has used nearly $283,000 in federal grant funds from the Texas Department of State Health Services to create a campaign called Live a More Colorful Life (LAMCL). The campaign involves three initiatives: educating county residents on the importance of fruits and vegetables in everyday diets; expanding access to farmers' markets; and creating a network of community gardens to increase interest in fresh produce.  


"In 2008, we did a needs assessment and found that almost two-thirds of the adult population in Tarrant County was overweight and or obese," says Ann Salyer-Caldwell, TCPH's associate director for community health promotion, "and fewer than 25 percent of adults consumed the recommended five or more fruits and vegetables daily." Full Article 



Combating Childhood Obesity



Childhood Obesity is an issue that gets addressed all over the United States--however Texas ranks 32nd in overall prevalence of childhood obesity, and parents want to make a change.


Tyler Calhoun is eight years old. He is 52 inches tall and weighs 95 pounds. According to his pediatrician, Dr. Cristina Soriano of St. Joseph Pediatrics, Tyler is considered overweight.


"He's kind of ben big all his life, but it would be up and down. You know how kids do, they grow, they stop growing, they grow-- but two years ago we were at a plateau where kind of slowly kept creeping up," said Tyler's mother Sylvia Tubb of Anderson. "It's a shocker because you're thinking, 'oh my God. My kid is one of those kids?'"


According to the Texas Comptroller, 40 percent of students in the Bryan School district are considered at high-risk for obesity.


"It's not just an overnight change," said Tubb. "It's a lifestyle modification and you have to really work at it." Full Article

Beautiful but deadly: Latinos' curves put them at risk

(CNN)-- Elma Dieppa wonders if her cousin Helen Casillas would still be alive today if she had been more aware of how her weight contributed to her diabetes.


"She refused to take care of herself by not watching what she ate or exercising," Dieppa wrote in a blog post honoring the woman she describes as the "life of the party" -- funny, beautiful and genuine.

Casillas died of a heart attack at age 44.


Although Casillas lived with diabetes for years and worked in the medical field, her perception of her own disease was skewed, Dieppa said. Casillas told her cousin that the doctor wanted to take an aggressive approach to her weight loss, but Casillas didn't believe she was obese.


"This is the problem within the Hispanic community," Dieppa wrote on the blog. "We love our curves, but the line between beautiful and deadly curves is blurred." 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 



National Obesity News 

The Cost of Obesity and the ROI of Prevention 


A new report, Assessing the Economics of Obesity and Obesity Interventions, by researchers
from the Campaign to End Obesity, looks at the costs of the obesity epidemic and the possible array of interventions that could prevent obesity and save the country money.

When the Congressional Budget Office measures the impact of policies to address chronic diseases, their estimates usually cover a 10-year period. The authors of this new report argue that this timeframe accounts for most of the costs of legislation, but tends to underestimate the benefits. Preventing chronic diseases can have benefits over a long period of time, because many costly complications from such diseases take more than ten years to develop. The authors recommend using a 25-year budget window instead to fully account for the value of disease prevention. The report was supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.


NewPublicHealth spoke with Michael O'Grady, PhD, a senior fellow at the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago, a lead author and a former Assistant Secretary in the Department of Health and Human Services, about the report. Full Article 



Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Playbook 


Public health experts have identified sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) as major contributors to poor diet and rising obesity rates. Communities and states have proposed or implemented strategies to reduce consumption, from public education campaigns to portion size restrictions. Other communities and states are just getting started in their path to reduce SSB consumption among residents. 


ChangeLab Solutions developed the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Playbook to provide 10 strategies for communities and states to consider, organized in a sequence that we have seen many places follow. In general, communities and states begin with public education campaigns and work their way up to restrictions on the availability of SSBs. It is important to remember that no single policy will substantially reduce SSB consumption or radically improve health. A collection of strategies, such as those listed in the playbook, will create environments that promote health. Full Report 



SNAP Food Benefits to be Reduced in November


SNAP food benefits in Texas and across the nation will be reduced by an average of 5 percent beginning Nov. 1. This is because the temporary increase in benefits from the federal stimulus passed in 2009 is expiring. The amount of the drop will vary depending on the family's situation, and the largest monthly decrease will be no more than $11 a person.


The state has sent letters to families letting them know about the decrease in benefits. 

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, also known as the stimulus, was passed and signed into law in 2009. It increased SNAP amounts by 13.6 percent. The portion of that increase that was not absorbed by annual cost of living increases will expire Oct. 31. Full Article 


Docs to Parents: Limit kids' texts, tweets, online 


CHICAGO (AP) - Doctors 2 parents: Limit kids' tweeting, texting & keep smartphones, laptops out of bedrooms. #goodluckwiththat.


The recommendations are bound to prompt eye-rolling and LOLs from many teens but an influential pediatricians group says parents need to know that unrestricted media use can have serious consequences.


It's been linked with violence, cyberbullying, school woes, obesity, lack of sleep and a host of other problems. It's not a major cause of these troubles, but "many parents are clueless" about the profound impact media exposure can have on their children, said Dr. Victor Strasburger, lead author of the new American Academy of Pediatrics policy


"This is the 21st century and they need to get with it," said Strasburger, a University of New Mexico adolescent medicine specialist. Full Article 

What Does It Mean to Build a Health Impact Economy? 


A Health Impact Economy combines community development with health and social enterprise/impact investing to foster new business models that will transform individuals and the economy across sectors. Watch this video of a panel discussion hosted at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco featuring the following panelists: 


  • Neal Halfon - University of California, Los Angeles
  • Antony Bugg-Levine - Nonprofit Finance Fund
  • Jonathan Greenblatt - White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Engagement
  • Kevin Jones - Social Capital Markets
  • David Erickson - Federal Reserve Bank of San Franciso (moderator) 

Healthy Beverage program at University of Michigan Healthy System


As part of a commitment to the health and wellbeing of our community, beginning mid-November 2013, the University of Michigan Health System will only sell and distribute healthy beverages at our Hospitals and Health Centers, administrative buildings and Medical School.  


Patients, visitors, staff, and students can bring any beverage they choose with them to our buildings. Full Article 


Beverages that are available include:

  • Water
  • Flavored or infused waters
  • Milk
  • Tea
  • 100% fruit juice
  • Diet beverages
  • Coffee and sugar-free sweetened coffee drinks (sugar packets will be available)

Beverages we will no longer sell or distribute include:

  • Non-diet soft drinks
  • Sweetened fruit-flavored drinks
  • Sports drinks
  • Energy drinks
  • Sweetened teas
  • Sweetened coffees


eventsUpcoming Events
Southern Obesity Summit

November 17th-19th

Nashville, TN

Omni Nashville Downtown, 150 Third Avenue, Nashville TB 37201

More Information 


DC Fit Ball

Tuesday, November 19th, 6:00pm

Washington D.C., to support the Campaign to End Obesity

1610 H Street NW, Washington DC 20006

More Information 


Doctors for Change November General Forum

Wednesday, November 20th, 6:30pm-8:00pm

University Eye Institute at the UH Health and Biomedical Sciences Building

4901 Calhoun Road, Houston, TX 77204

More Information  


Overfed and Undernourished: Solving Houston's Hunger Games

Tuesday, December 3rd, 5:30pm-7:30pm

Rice University Bioscience Research Collaborative

6500 Main Street, Houston, TX 77030

More Information 


�Pl�ticas de Salud! Prioritizing Health in the Latino Community

Wednesday, December 4th, 1:00-2:30pm CST


More Information 


School Meals: Challenges and Opportunities / AFHK Parent Leadership Series 

Wednesday, December 4th, 1:00pm-2:00pm