A Houston/Harris County Childhood Obesity Prevention Collaborative 
February 10, 2014  /  Issue XVIII  
In This Issue

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Community/Stakeholder Engagement Team

Susan Lackey, MPH
Gracey Malacara
Jennifer Mineo, DrPH


2525 Robinhood St.,

Suite 1100

Houston, TX 77005


fax: 281.953.7477



summitrecapHLM Summit 2014 a Success! 


Enthusiasm and motivation filled the air at the Healthy Living Matters Summit, a 2-day event at the Asia Society on January 29th-30th to release the HLM Community Action Plan. Attendees represented diverse sectors from across Harris County, including urban planning, school districts, health insurance, health literacy, parks and nature, grocers, community organizations and universities. It was clear that everyone had one mission in mind: tipping the scale for the health of the children of Harris County.


An evening reception included remarks in support of HLM from Representative Dr. Alma Allen and a presentation from Jay Sears, Managing Partner of NewQuest Properties. He emphasized that investment in our communities yields high returns because it can build strong, prepared leaders.



At the day conference, attendees received a copy of the HLM Community Action Plan (CAP), including 15 policies that were prioritized through numerous assessments and engagements. The goal of the Summit was to begin action around these policies.   


To keep the audience moving, HLM Youth Ambassador Vivian Duttlinger took the stage and announced "It is my job to get you moving here today." she led the audience in a fun Instant Recess exercise before other presentations and activities, which included "Moving Policy to Action" and break-our sessions.


KPRC Local 2 News Anchor, Dominique Sachse, introduced guest speaker Stephen Ritz who charged up the room with an enthusiastic presentation on the Green Bronx Machine project. Attendees then "committed to action" and signed up for various ways they would like to help create policy change personally or organizationally through time, resources, or funding opportunities.



Throughout the 2-day Summit, one message was clear: we all play a role in creating a healthy community for the children of Harris County. It's time to take action because Healthy Living does Matter! 


newwebsiteNew HLM Website Launches 


Healthy Living Matters is happy to announce that we have launched a new website with links to the materials we have created over the 2 year planning process. The URL remains the same, but the content is new and exciting!


Visit us at www.healthylivingmatters.net to see some of the work we have done, including:

Whether you are a policy maker or a parent searching for ways to improve your child's health, we hope you find the new website a resource for your advocacy as we all work together to curb childhood obesity in Harris County. 

instantrecessHLM Youth Ambassador Vivian Duttlinger Shares Her Summit Experience

My experience with leading instant recess at the summit was unforgettable because it gave me the chance to open up to a crowd of people I didn't even know. I was able to gain courage to speak in front of 150 people! The memory of hearing everyone laugh and seeing that the crowd was following my instructions, is something that will forever be treasured in my mind. I had a great time leading and I enjoyed the energy everyone put out. Thank you!


chronicleblogHLM Summit Featured on Houston
Chronicle Blog 


A gorgeous sunset over our Houston skyline as seen from the Water Garden Terrace of the Asia Society provided a dramatic backdrop for the guests who gathered on the evening of January, 29, 2014 and were introduced to Healthy Living Matters, a collaborative with the mission to mobilize policy action and curb childhood obesity in Harris County. Over 75 guests sipped cocktails and enjoyed healthy lite bites as they previewed the HLM Community Action Plan, a two-year planning initiative, and heard local leader Jay Sears of the Grant Me The Wisdom Foundation present examples of how he is making a difference in our community where 1 in 3 children is obese. Dr. Umair Shah, Executive Director of Harris County Public Health & Environmental Services (HCPHES), Rocaille Roberts, Director of Policy HCPHES, and Representative Alma Allen also engaged the crowd, as well as HLM Executive Committee Co-Chairs Dr. Ann Smith Barnes, Harris Health System/Assistant Professor Baylor College of Medicine and Bruce Wilcoxon, Director of Public Policy Conoco Phillips. Full Article 

wellnesswebinarFeatured Resource - Webinar  


Making the Case for School Wellness / AFHK Parent Leadership Series 


Wednesday, February 19th, 1:00pm-2:00pm



This webinar, hosted by Action for Health Kids, provides parents and healthy living advocates with the tools to communicate with the school community on the benefits of school wellness programming. Participants will learn about ways to build momentum and awareness about the obesity crisis in order to create important changes to build a healthier school environment. Best practices, success stories and common questions and concerns will be shared.


Action for Healthy Kids provides various learning opportunities through their AFHK Leadership Series. Each session is no cost and open to anyone interested in learning more about school breakfast programs, recess advocacy, wellness policy implementation and more. All webinars are recorded and available in the archived section of their website.

texasnews Texas Obesity News

UnitedHealthcare Collaborates with Konami and Zamzee on Innovative Health Programs that Help Reduce Childhood Obesity

UnitedHealthcare today announced at the 2014 International CES collaborations with Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc., and Zamzee to help reduce childhood obesity through school-based health programs. Both initiatives incorporate exergaming, which refers to video games that are also a form of exercise. Full article



Local 13 year-old invents app to fight childhood obesity


SAN ANTONIO -- Getting your kid off the couch and away from video games can be tough. But a local kid has invented an app that should do the trick. It's called "We Walk."


The app motivates kids to walk and exercise by letting them earn points for every step they take. It's the brainchild of, a child. The brainchild of 13-year-old junior high school student named Estrella Hernandez to be exact.


"What if we could combine health with technology?" asked Estrella.


The forward thinking pre-teen learned about the childhood obesity epidemic and wanted to reach out and help San Antonio children.


Once the app is developed and released, it will be free for kids to download and use.

"You just press 'start' and as you walk your phone will count number of steps you take and convert those into points," said Estrella. Full Article




Snack It Up program seeks to fight childhood obesity in DFW  


A new program to combat childhood obesity has been launched in Dallas-Fort Worth that will help provide healthier snacks to area youngsters in some out-of-schools programs. 


The Snack It Up pilot program was created by Healthy Kids Out of School, an initiative of ChildObesity180 at Tufts University in Medford, Mass.


"We developed Snack It Up in response to out-of-school-time program leaders telling us that fruits and vegetables were not easily accessible," Christina D. Economos, Ph.D., vice chair and director of ChildObesity180, New Balance Chair in Childhood Nutrition, and Associate Professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. Full Article






Existing Texas Obesity Efforts Draw Support
The four-year Childhood Obesity Demonstration project funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides support for existing community efforts to improve nutrition and physical activity for children. Grantees include the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and the University of Houston. The project focuses on children ages 2-twelve covered by Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The initiative uses innovative approaches to reach low-income and minority families to fight childhood obesity. The CDC will provide recommendations of strategies to prevent obesity at the conclusion of the project in September 2015. Full Article 




2014 Farm Bill Becomes Law


Washington passed a bill authorizing nearly $1 trillion in spending on farm subsidies and nutrition programs, setting the stage for final passage of a new five-year farm bill that has been stalled for more than two years.   


Negotiators from the House and Senate spent several weeks working out their differences on issues in the legislation, including cuts to food stamps, income caps on farm subsidies and a price support program for dairy farmers. The bill is expected to save about $16.6 billion over the next 10 years. Learn more about the 2014 Farm Bill  


Many chronically ill Americans unable to afford food, medicine 


(Reuters Health) - One in three Americans with a chronic disease such as diabetes, arthritis or high blood pressure has difficulty paying for food, medications or both, according to a new study.

People who had trouble affording food were four times more likely to skip some of their medications due to cost than those who got plenty to eat, researchers found.

"This leads to an obvious tension between 'milk' or 'med,'" said Dr. Niteesh Choudhry, who worked on the study at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. "If you have a fixed income, should you treat or should you eat?"

The findings are based on data collected by the 2011 National Health Interview Survey, a questionnaire that offers a snapshot of the U.S. population as a whole. Nearly 10,000 people age 20 and up filled out the survey and reported having one or more chronic illnesses like cancer, asthma, emphysema or a psychiatric illness.

Among those participants, 23 percent took their medication less often than prescribed because of the cost, 19 percent reported difficulty affording food and 11 percent said they were having trouble paying for both food and medications. In the end, about one in three had trouble affording food, medication or both. Full Article 


Cash or Credit? How Kids Pay For School Lunch Matters For Health 


American kids have a problem with obesity, according to the most recent studies. In fact, the closest thing we have to good news about childhood obesity is that kids are not gaining weight as rapidly as they were some years ago.


Researchers may have identified one surprising new factor in why kids are overeating.


Compared with kids who use cash in school cafeterias, kids who use debit cards seem to make more unhealthful eating choices, finds Brian Wansink, a behavioral economist at Cornell University.


"Kids are luch, much, much more likely to take desserts and are much less likely to take fruits and vegetables" when they use their debit cards, says Wansink. "In contrast to that, in schools where kids are paying cash, kids not only buy a lot more fruit but they also buy a lot less dessert."


Not only did three times as many kids buy vegetables when they were paying with cash over debit cards, but they also ate 10 percent fewer calories. Full Article 



Kindergarten weight strong indicator of childhood obesity, study finds  


The researchers looked at data on children who took part in an Early Childhood Longitudinal Study of the U.S. Kindergarten Class of 1998-1999.


According to a news release from Emory Health Sciences, kindergarten weight is a strong indicator of childhood obesity.


Researchers from Emory's Rollins School of Public Health have learned that overweight kindergartners were four times as likely as normal-weight children to become obese by the 8th grade.


The researchers looked at data on children who took part in an Early Childhood Longitudinal Study of the U.S. Kindergarten Class of 1998-1999. They concentrated their findings on the rate of incidence of obesity in overweight and normal weight children starting kindergarten.


"Although trends in the prevalence of obesity are well documented, there is surprisingly little known about new cases of childhood obesity," says Solveig A. Cunningham, PhD, assistant professor in the Hubert Department of Global Health at Rollins School of Public Health Cunningham. "Examining incidence may provide insight into the nature of the epidemic, the critically vulnerable ages, and the groups who are at greater risk for obesity." Full Article 




Playworks coaches help put the fun back in recess at 14 D.C. schools 


Recess has taken a beating in recent years. Because of shrinking budgets and ever-increasing academic demands, playground time in many school districts has dwindled, seen as a frivolous luxury. In some places, recess has been cut altogether, despite endorsements from the American Academy of Pediatrics and studies showing that recess not only improves children's fitness, but benefits their social-emotional growth and academic performance.


But 14 public and charter schools in the District have overhauled recess dramatically to make playtime a priority. Each of those schools has a Playworks coach who helps facilitate playground activities. A nonprofit organization started in Oakland, Calif., in 1996, Playworks champions recess not only for its health benefits, but for the opportunities it creates to teach children conflict resolution skills.


"Yes, it gives kids the physical activity and the opportunity to play, but it's also the social-emotional learning aspect of it," said Nancy Barrand, a senior adviser for program development at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which provides funding for Playworks. "It's helping kids learn how to socialize, how to take turns, how to be able to wait, how to be able to compete without killing each other. It's all the things that one learns from play. Sometimes it's easier to learn those things from play than from reading a rule book and being told what to do." Full Article 


Bicycle Safety Education: Implementing the Best Curriculum for your Community
Thursday, February 20th, 1:00pm CST

More Information 


Setting Up Difficult Choices: The State of Nutrition and Anti-Hunger Policies

Friday, February 25th, 11:30am-1:00pm

Multi-purpose roof of UH Graduate College of Social Work  

4800 Calhoun Road, Houston, TX 77004 

More Information 


2014 Children's Policy Conference & Founder's Award Luncheon 

Saturday, February 26th, 8:00am-4:30pm 

St. David's Episcopal Church, Austin, TX 



How to Work with Schools & School Wellness Policies 101 / AFHK Parent Leadership Series 

Tuesday, March 4th, 3:00pm-4:00pm CST 


More Information 


Association for Community Health Improvement National Conference
Succeeding in the Second Curve: The Critical Role of Community in Moving from Individual to Population Health
March 5th-7th, 2014 
Orlando, FL

More Information 


Chelsea Clinton as Keynote Speaker at SXSW Interactive Festival 2014

Tuesday, March 11th at 2:00pm CST

Exhibit Hall 5 of Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX


Partnership for a Healthier America Summit 

Building a Healthier Future 

March 12th-14th, 2014 

Washington D.C., Washington Hilton 

More Information