A Houston/Harris County Childhood Obesity Prevention Collaborative

December 9, 2013  /  Issue XVI

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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



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.

summitHLM 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 are excited to announce that Stephen Ritz, founder of Green Bronx Machine, will be a speaker at the HLM Summit. His experience with encouraging healthy living and growing "organic citizens" is truly inspiring, and we look forward to hearing what he has to share with us. Please check out Green Bronx Machine to learn about his work. We hope to see you there!
aliefHLM to Present to Alief ISD School Health Advisory Council December 10th, 2013


Based on the success at the Precinct 3 Alief YMCA Community Forum in November, HLM has been asked to present to the Alief ISD School Health Advisory Council on Tuesday, December 10th.


This is an exciting opportunity to talk about how childhood obesity impacts academic success, behavior, class participation and attendace. Tiffany Thomas, CPT collaborative member who was recently elected as Alief ISD Trustee Position 7, will provide an introduction. Rocaille Roberts, Director of HLM, will present on HLM's work and the impact health efforts have have on combating childhood obesity in Houston/Harris County. 

assessmentHLM Built & Food Environment Assessment Report 


Over the course of this initiative, the HLM team has worked on creating a shared understanding of childhood obesity in Harris County. This report focuses on two of the most important tools for public policy: the built environment, and health foods access and availability. The Build Environment Assessment considered ways that the human-made world in an urban city can facilitate or inhibit physical activity. This assessment examined factors such as roads, sidewalks, bike trails and public destination, such as parks. The Food Access Assessment focused on the availability of healthy foods at affordable prices and the ease of access to them for children and their parents in Harris County.  


The full assessment report is available here

minuteCPT Member Minute
Dr. Carol Lewis 


At the November CPT meeting, Dr. Lewis shared her work and how it relates to the overall mission of Healthy Living Matters. Her presentation, entitled The Confluence of Transit and Healthy Living, explored the relationship between the built environment and public policy and its influence on health. Dr. Lewis clearly explained that some transportation decisions may be detrimental to our health.


For example, Houston has addressed transportation issues around the city by building wider roads to accommodate more cars, but this is a health deterrent. Dr. Lewis presented that, if instead more was invested in public transportation methods and sidewalks/safe walking and biking spaces, Houstonians would experience:

  • Better air quality
  • Reduction of traffic fatalities
  • More physical activity
  • Increased health outcomes


Transit Oriented Development (or TODs) are mixed use development that are centered around a transit center that is bike and pedestrian friendly. They encourage social, civic and physical activity. Three main characteristics of TODs, or livable communities are: increased density, walkable, and mixed income/housing types.


Currently, Houstonians spend roughly 30% of their incomes on transportation. If TODs or similar walkable living communities could be created throughout the city, more of that money could be spent on healthy foods and more time could be spent on physical activities.


Dr. Lewis concluded her presentation saying that academic research is currently being conducted on the effects and benefits of TODs, but that models like the TOD and Complete Streets initiatives are important to consider as Houston works towards improving health through policy changes.

iomObesity Prevention at the Institute of Medicine (IOM)


Obesity has immediate and long-term negative effects on the health of our nation. According to the Institute of Medicine, ending this epidemic poses a major challenge for policy makers and health professionals and for all the rest of us as well.


Since 2005, the Institute of Medicine has researched and compiled leading information for the prevention of childhood obesity. IOM has recommended community, state and national level strategies for changing environments in ways that increase healthy eating and physical activity. The following reports and workshop publications have informed the obesity prevention efforts of policy makers and researchers.

One of IOM's most recent publications is called Educating the Student Body: Taking Physical Activity and Physical Education to School. Published in May 2013, this report outlines strategies for improving physical education and health outcomes using schools as a means of delivering health education and physical activity opportunities. Link to the full PDF available online here.  
For a full link of the IOM's reports and resources for obesity prevention, please visit their website.
movementFeatured Resource: Adding Movement to Meetings 


Keeping active throughout the day is just as important to your health and well-being as hitting the gym for some cardio. The HLM team has compiled a list of resources for integrating movement into your work life.

Instant Recess Video: 5-Minute Physical Activity Break for Meetings and Events

This 5-minute group physical activity break has been developed by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and UCLA's School of Public Health to encourage regular physical activity participation in the workplace. This fun, low-impact group activity, for use at meetings and events or with work groups, supports group participation with simple aerobic dance/calisthenic movements done to music and was specifically designed to accommodates all shapes, sizes and abilities and is appropriate for large or small groups.

Standing Ovation

Anytime a speaker is presented and after they are done speaking, have attendees stand up and give them a standing ovation.  This gives the audience a quick stretch and increases their alertness and focus.

UC Berkeley Activity Guide to Healthy Meetings and Events
  • 2-hour meetings include a stretch break
  • 2-4 hour meetings also include 5-10 minute activity break
  • All-day meetings in addition to stretch breaks and 5-minute activity breaks, schedule a 30-minute break and encourage participants to take a walk or engage in another physical activity 
Benefits of an Instant Recess Video

Become a change-agent and take these ideas back to your organizations and use them to encourage more movement in the workplace and ultimately for kids!

nihNIH Obesity Evaluation Grant Opportunity 


Time-Sensitive Obesity Policy and Program Evaluation (R01): PAR-12-257

SOURCE: National Institutes of Health (NIH)
APPLICATION DEADLINE: Please see URL for an extremely large number of deadlines. Expires 9/11/15.
$ AVAILABLE: The number of awards is contingent upon NIH appropriations, and the submission of a sufficient number of meritorious applications.  

PURPOSE: This announcement establishes an accelerated review/award process to support time-sensitive research to evaluate a new policy or program expected to influence obesity related behaviors (e.g., dietary intake, physical activity, or sedentary behavior) and/or weight outcomes in an effort to prevent or reduce obesity.

ELIGIBILITY: Public/state/private controlled institutions of higher education, nonprofits with and without 501(c)(3) IRS status (other than institutions of higher education), small businesses, for-profit organizations (other than small businesses), state governments, U.S. territories or possessions, Indian/Native American tribal government (federally recognized and other than federally recognized), Indian/Native American tribally designated organizations, non-domestic (non-U.S.) entities, Hispanic-serving institutions, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities (TCCUs), Alaska native and native Hawaiian serving institutions, regional organizations, eligible agencies of the federal government, and faith-based or community-based organizations.

CFDA: 93.847,93.866, 93.399, 93.865 
CONTACT: Please see URL for contact information. Visit here for more information.

From National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research (NCCOR) Web site 



texasTexas Obesity News 

Too much of too little: A diet fueled by food stamps is making South Texas obese but leaving them hungry 

McAllen, Tex. - They were already running late for a doctor's appointment, but first the Salas family hurried into their kitchen for another breakfast paid for by the federal government. The 4-year-old grabbed a bag of cheddar-flavored potato chips and a granola bar. The 9-year-old filled a bowl with sugary cereal and then gulped down chocolate milk. Their mother, Blanca, arrived at the refrigerator and reached into the drawer where she stored the insulin needed to treat her diabetes. She filled a needle with fluid and injected it into her stomach with a practiced jab.


"Let's go," she told the children, rushing them out of the kitchen and into the car. "We can stop for snacks on our way home."


 The family checkup had been scheduled at the insistence of a school nurse, who wanted the Salas family to address two concerns: They were suffering from both a shortage of nutritious food and a diet of excess - paradoxical problems that have become increasingly interconnected in the United States, and especially in South Texas.


For almost a decade, Blanca had supported her five children by stretching $430 in monthly food stamp benefits, adding lard to thicken her refried beans and buying instant soup by the case at a nearby dollar store. She shopped for "quantity over quality," she said, aiming to fill a grocery cart for $100 or less. Full Article 



Grants for Running Related Initiatives in the Houston Area 
The Houston Marathon Foundation makes grants in running related programs and initiatives.  Programs receiving support include after school running programs, park building, repair or improvement initiatives, health and wellness activities, running event safety and security and the advancement of elite runners and supporting programs.
The Foundation funds organizations working in the areas identified above, based on specific goals and strategies outlined by the programs. Almost all grants are awarded to organizations identified by the Foundation.

The Foundation does accept unsolicited Letters of Inquiry from organizations.  All Letters of Inquiry must be pre-approved and discussed with the Houston Marathon Foundation prior to submission. 

For pre-approved organizations, there are no deadlines, applications will be reviewed quarterly. More Information 



Life in the Colonias
This is the first part of a two-part series about the lives of children living in the Texas Border region in communities called colonias, and how their neighborhoods can be catalysts for obesity.
Imagine living in a home and not being able to count on electricity, plumbing and other basic amenities. For more than 400,000 people living along the Texas border, that's just everyday reality. Colonias are unincorporated settlements found mostly but not entirely along the Texas border. About 42 percent of Texas' 2294 colonias are located in Hidalgo County, the nation's second-poorest county. Colonias often lack the basic services and infrastructure we take for granted elsewhere, "including paved roads, street lighting, and safe housing," says Dr. Nelda Mier, principal investigator for the Texas A&M-McAllen School of Rural Public Health. Low-income families buy property in colonias because it can be much cheaper than buying or even renting in more developed areas.


These communities' problems go beyond a lack of amenities. Children growing up in these environments suffer disproportionately from one of the plagues of our age: obesity. According to some estimates, almost 70 percent of the Border region population is at risk of being excessive weight or obesity. Several researchers from Texas A&M-McCallen collected data in Hidalgo County From January through April 2011, visiting 14 colonias and documenting a clear correlation between poor living conditions and obesity in minors. The investigators found conditions best described as primitive. The 14 neighborhoods together had only one crosswalk sign and one street with sidewalks on both sides. Their streets are filled with potholes and lack effective drainage. According to the researchers, the colonias lack traffic lights, street lighting and pedestrian signs, and see few police patrols. Full Article 

RNC Childhood Obesity Camp

The RNC Childhood Obesity Camp is scheduled to begin during the summer of 2014, with a focus on aiding children in the Houston, TX area who are disproportionately affected by obesity. The camp will provide health and fitness exercises but is also designed to give children the lasting tools needed to make healthy choices. The camp will also explore the psychological and mental effects obesity has on children. Founded by Latisha Rowe, M.D., M.B.A., RNC serves a driving force in the fitness movement all around the country.

This event will be hosted by NFL legend and national philanthropist, Tim Carter. Tim Carter, who played in the NFL for eight years, last with the St. Louis Rams, founded Carter's Kids Residential Treatment Center in Richmond, Texas, after he retired four years ago. The program currently has 60 boys enrolled. "I have always had a passion for helping those who are less fortunate," says Carter. "It is my goal to help as many kids as possible. I want to use my platform as an athlete to make a difference in the lives of kids," says Carter.
More Information



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 

Healthy eating costs you $1.50 more a day


Eating nutritional foods is one of the best ways to reduce obesity. But following a healthy diet isn't always easy, especially for lower socioeconomic groups.


One of the biggest barriers to buying good food is the cost, many experts say. Now researchers at Harvard School of Public Health have put a dollar amount on the price of healthy eating. By reviewing 27 studies on the cost of healthy vs. unhealthy foods, they've estimated the daily cost of eating better. Their results are published in the British Medical Journal.


"Conventional wisdom has been that healthier foods cost more, but it's never been clear if that's actually true or exactly how much more healthier foods might cost," said lead study author Mayuree Rao. "We found that the healthiest diets cost about $1.50 more per day, and that's less than we might have expected." Full Article


Childhood Obesity Index: Your resource for mapping childhood obesity across America


The Childhood Obesity Index is an innovative, first-of-its-kind tool that maps the prevalence of childhood obesity in communities across the United States down to the zip code level. Johnson & Johnson leveraged the Childhood Obesity Index to determine the areas of greatest need when it launched Healthier Kids, a program that is incorporated under the Gateway to a Healthy Community™ umbrella.  


Johnson & Johnson is now offering the Childhood Obesity Index to the public free of charge. Johnson and Johnson believes that this important information can help local leaders, policymakers, health and medical professionals, advocacy groups, individuals and organizations to understand, and better address, the prevalence of childhood obesity in their communities. Website 



Obese children should keep food diaries say guidelines 


Children who are overweight or obese should be encouraged to keep a food-and-activity diary, say new public health guidelines for England.


The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence says more needs to be done to tackle child obesity.  


It says getting parents and their children to track what they snack on and how much TV they watch could help.


Although rates are levelling off, three in every 10 children aged between two and 15 are overweight or obese.  


The guidelines make a raft of recommendations, including greater support from local authorities, but say families are at the heart of managing the issue.


We are recommending family-based lifestyle programmes are provided which give tailored advice"

Prof Mike Kelly Director of the Centre for Public Health at NICE.


Children from around the age of 12 - depending on their ability - should be encouraged to monitor their eating, physical activity and any sedentary behaviour, say the guidelines. Full Article



Dinner Rituals Correlate with Child, Adult Weight 


Did you know that the dining environment itself is an influencer of your weight status? This is the finding of a recent study by Dr. Brian Wansink and Dr. Ellen van Kleef, who examined the relationship between everyday family dinner rituals and the BMI of 190 parents and 148 children. The body mass index (BMI) is a measure of body fat that compares weight to height. Studies have shown that lifestyle factors such as physical activity, eating breakfast every day and income are associated with this frequently used measure of weight status.


Parents participating in the study completed a questionnaire regarding the whole family's mealtime habits. They were asked a broad range of questions concerning how many days they engage in mealtime activities, such as discussing their day, during a typical week. After filling in the questionnaire, the weight and height of both parents and children were recorded.


These 'dinner rituals' correlated with both the parents and the child's BMI's. The higher the BMI of parents, the more frequent they indicated to eat with the TV on. Eating at the table in the dining room or kitchen was linked to lower BMIs for both children and parents. Girls who helped parents prepare dinner were more likely to have a higher BMI, but there is no such relationship among boys. Yet boys who had a more social dinner experience tended to have lower BMI, especially in families where everyone stayed at the table until everyone finished eating. This proved true in parents as well. Full Article 


Obesity Begins at Home 


Our society is experiencing unprecedented obesity in children and teens, and according to the Center for Disease Control, one out of five children is overweight. The rate of obesity in our children has almost tripled in the last 30 years. The level of obesity seen by pediatricians and registered dietitians is staggering. I routinely see teens whose weight tops the scales at over 250 pounds. Although sugar isn't the sole reason for the rise in obesity, it is certainly one of the contributors.


Children's dietary patterns and food habits simply don't meet dietary guidelines. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines suggest limiting portions of foods with excessive amounts of saturated fats, transfats, sodium and added sugars. The guidelines also stress the consumption of nutrient-rich foods such as skim and low-fat dairy and, of course, fruits and vegetables. This report indicates that cereal, the first food of the day consumed by many children, actually has more sugar than many desserts. Not mentioned in the report is how the amount of cereal served is often more than the serving size listed on the nutrition facts panel-meaning the amount of sugar can be even more than anticipated. This is particularly true for teens. Full Article

Louie's Kids


Louie's Kids is a tax-exempt, nonprofit organization that raises funds to help treat childhood obesity, which afflicts 25 million American children today. Louie's Kids works to find the best treatment options to meet the needs of each child. We find the fix that fits, one kid at a time. Website


eventsUpcoming Events

Promoting Physical Activity in Early Child Care and Education Settings
Thursday, December 12th, 2:00pm-3:00pm CST




Universal Breakfast: Making it Work for Your School 

Thursday, January 16th, 3:00pm-4:00pm CST


More Information  


Liability 201: Addressing Liability Concerns Related to Walking School Buses, Bike Trains, Remore Drop Off and More! 

Thursday, January 16th, 1:00pm-2:00pm CST