A Houston/Harris County Childhood Obesity Prevention Collaborative 
March 18, 2014  /  Issue XIX

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Community/Stakeholder Engagement Team

Susan Lackey, MPH
Gracey Malacara


2525 Robinhood St.,

Suite 1100

Houston, TX 77005


fax: 281.953.7477



chliCommunity Healthy Living Index (CHLI) sites to receive seed funds from HLM


In 2012 and 2013, HLM partnered with the YMCA to hold Community Healthy Living Index (CHLI) conversations at 16 sites across Harris County to assess the availability of healthy food and activity options. Following the CHLI conversations, improvement plans were developed for 8 neighborhoods and 8 after school programs to increase availability of healthy options for children. This year, all 16 sites will be awarded seed funds from HLM to support implementation of the improvement plans and/or prioritized policies from the larger HLM Community Action Plan.


Neighborhood CHLI Sites: Cossaboom Family YMCA, Baytown Family YMCA, Alief Family YMCA, Harriet and Joe Foster Family YMCA, Houston Texans YMCA, Northeast Family YMCA, Aldine-Greenspoint YMCA, and Langham Creek Family YMCA


After School CHLI Sites: Ninfa Early Childhood Center, Baytown YMCA After School Program, Foster YMCA After School Program, Cuney Homes, Langham Creek YMCA After School Program, Chinese Community Center, Linder Young Learners Academy, and Finnigan Park Boys and Girls Club


For more information about HLM and CHLI, click here.



YMCA representatives at the HLM Reception


pasadenaHLM in Pasadena: Updates 


Harris County Public Health & Environmental Services received a grant to implement active living and healthy eating strategies that were informed by the Healthy Living Matters assessment work and policy recommendations. This new project, called Healthy Living Matters-Pasadena, conducted its first Community Task Force (CTF) Meeting on Thursday, February 20th at the Carmen Orozco Professional Development Center, in Pasadena, TX.

This meeting brought together members from the Pasadena Independent School District, the City of Pasadena Public Works, Planning & Health Departments, Memorial Hermann, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, Pasadena Health Center, WIC, YMCA, Neighborhood Centers Inc., Air Alliance Houston, as well as consultants and representatives from area grocery stores and restaurants.

During this meeting the group was presented with the project background, timeline and strategies, which include:

  • Supporting the School Health Advisory Council & aid in their parent engagement efforts
  • Installing bike racks at local schools
  • Hosting a bike to school day
  • Conducting a healthy corner store pilot project
  • Conducting a healthy restaurant pilot project
  • Building community capacity by facilitating workshops on planning for environments that support physical activity

The CTF was also asked to identify opportunities and barriers to the strategies proposed, and to help identify additional ways in which the project could support opportunities for healthy eating and/or active living in Pasadena.

For questions about Healthy Living Matters-Pasadena, contact Katie Chennisi, Project Coordinator at cchennisi@hcphes.org or 713-439-6067.


youtubeHLM Summit videos available on YouTube

Missed the HLM Summit or want to revisit the agenda? Just head to our YouTube page and get inspired by guest speaker Stephen Ritz and others!

bruceHLM Member Highlight: Executive Committee Co-chair Bruce Wilcoxon


Bruce Wilcoxon 

In January, Bruce Wilcoxon, Director of Corporate Public Policy at ConocoPhillips, began a three-year term as a member of the HISD School Health Advisory Council (SHAC).  The HISD SHAC meets monthly with the goal of ensuring that local community values and health issues are reflected in the district's health education instruction.


Bruce also represented HLM at the February Harris County Healthcare Alliance member meeting. He provided the group with HLM project updates and Summit highlights. 


webFeatured Resource: American Association of Diabetic Educators Obesity Webinar Series

April 2, 2014

Obesity Series, Part II: Physical Activity
The second webinar in this series focuses on the role of physical activity in preventing and treating obesity. 


May 7, 2014
Obesity Series Part III: Pharmacotherapeutic Approaches to the Management of Obesity  


June 11, 2014
Obesity Series Part IV: Surgical Interventions 

Calling All Gardeners! 


The Alief Community Garden has 45 4' x 20' plots available for rent ($5 a month).  Gardeners agree to volunteer 15 hours per year to help maintain the paths, the compost pile and other gardening chores. The garden has provided an opportunity for an ethnically diverse community to come together with a common goals of producing food and enjoying the outdoors.  Because each gardener decides what he/she would like to grow, other gardeners are learning about different plants.

Prospective gardeners of all ages to share their talents with the rest of the community. For more information, email Barbara Quattro, Alief Super Neighborhood President at bquattro@sbcglobal.net.
texasnews Texas Obesity News

New survey assesses Texas legislators' views on obesity prevention

Results from a new survey show agreement among Texas lawmakers when it comes to their perceptions of prevention and control measures to address childhood obesity. The 2013 Texas Health Perception Survey was conducted as a collaborative effort between the Michael & Susan Dell (MSD) Center for Healthy Living at The University of Texas School of Public Health and the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Rural Public Health.


Eighty-three Texas legislators or their aides, representing both political parties and legislative chambers, responded to the survey during the most recent Texas legislative session. Sixteen legislators provided additional information through interviews administered in-person with the legislator or with an aide speaking on their behalf. Full article 



Do Docs Spend More Time in McAllen, Texas Because People There are Obese?

In a very influential 2009 New Yorker essay, Atul Gawande described why health care spending is rampant in McAllen, Texas, an example of the regional variations in healthcare utilization that policy experts at Dartmouth have been studying for years. Indeed, this research has shown much higher spending in places like McAllen, compared to cities like Salem, Oregon, where healthcare costs have not only been historically lower for a couple decades now, but have also grown at slower rates in the ensuing decades.


Late in 2012, Louise Sheiner from the Federal Reserve Board conducted a series of analyses that raised major questions about this whole line of research. Full Article 



Texas Obesity Initiatives


Developing innovative approaches to study, prevent, and treat obesity is an ongoing priority for The University of Texas School of Public Health, part of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth). In December, Dr. Deanna Hoelscher, director of the Michael and Susan Dell (MSD) Center for Healthy Living at the Austin Regional Campus, reviewed initiatives and strategies to help Texas combat obesity in the December 2013 issue of Progress in Community Health Partnerships; Research Education and Action. Dr. Hoelscher also contributed to the Institute of Medicine's August 2013 report Evaluating Obesity Prevention Efforts: A Plan for Measuring Progress, which offers a framework for providing guidance for systematic and routine planning, implementation and evaluation of the advancement of obesity prevention efforts.  


MSD Researchers are studying how Houston METRO's north light rail line will the affect physical activity of nearby residents. Regular transit use has been linked to greater levels of physical activity and lower body weight, but the long-term effects of transportation-related activity in neighborhoods have not been established. Funding for the Transport-Related Activity in Neighborhoods (TRAIN) study comes from the National Institutes of Health and amounts to $2.5 million over the next five years. Full Article



Could living or working near fast food shops make you obese?


It may seem like an obvious association: exposure to fast food restaurants and likelihood of obesity. But researchers whose study revealed these findings say the link shows evidence of a "dose-response relationship" and could have implications in the wake of the increasingly worrisome public health issue that is obesity. 

Publishing their work on bmj.com the researchers, from the University of Cambridge in the UK, say people exposed to fast food establishments around their home, at work or during their commute are much more likely to consume such foods.

In the UK, consumption of food outside the home has risen by 29% during the past 10 years, the researchers say. They add that this could be contributing to rising numbers of overweight and obese individuals. Full Article 


USDA awards grants to develop childhood obesity prevention programs

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) will make three grants totaling $5 million to universities to develop childhood obesity prevention programs. Vilsack made the announcement during the keynote address before the 2014 National PTA Legislative Conference in Arlington, VA.

"USDA is at the forefront of the Obama Administration's efforts to combat childhood obesity, which poses a threat to the health and future productivity of our entire nation," said Vilsack. "These grants fund critical research that will help USDA and our partners implement effective strategies to support America's next generation so they can have a healthy childhood and develop healthy habits for life." Full Article 


It Takes More Than a Produce Aisle to Refresh a Food Desert

In inner cities and poor rural areas across the country, public health advocates have been working hard to turn around food deserts - neighborhoods where fresh produce is scarce, and greasy fast food abounds. In many cases, they're converting dingy, cramped corner markets into lighter, brighter venues that offer fresh fruits and vegetables. In some cases, they're building new stores.

The presumption is, if you build a store, people are going to come," says Stephen Matthews, professor in the departments of sociology, anthropology and demography at Penn State University. To check that notion, he and colleagues from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine recently surveyed residents of one low-income community in Philadelphia before and after the opening of a glistening new supermarket brimming with fresh produce.

What they're finding, Matthews says, is a bit surprising: "We don't find any difference at all....We see no effect of the store on fruit and vegetable consumption. Full Article


Get Healthy - Add a bus stop to your diet

CHICAGO - Maybe that old notion about running for the bus isn't such a bad idea after all.

Short walks or jogs to bus stops and train stations may seem like small potatoes in the fight against obesity, but they can add up and make a difference. Consider that the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) has announced the highest transit ridership in 57 years - 10.7 billion trips in 2013.

Ridership is up 37.2 percent since 1995, outpacing population growth, which is up 20.3 percent, and vehicle miles traveled, which are up 22.7 percent. Full Article  


Obesity Linked to Lower Grades Among Teen Girls

Childhood obesity has made it to the forefront of public health issues, both in the United Kingdom and in the United States.

Now researchers at the Universities of Dundee, Strathclyde, Georgia and Bristol say that not only does obesity affect a child's overall health, but it may also lead to poorer school performance among teenage girls. Among boys, the link is less apparent.

Since the 1990s, the U.K. has been childhood obesity rates grow at an alarming rate, says John Reilly, specialist in the prevention of childhood obesity at the University of Strathclyde, and the study's lead author. Today, nearly a quarter of children in U.K. are obese by the time they reach 12. Full Article



Safe Routes to Schools Webinar: Build your own school district policy 

Thursday, March 20, 2014 1 p.m. CST


Parks and Natural Areas Subcommittee Meeting
Thursday, March 20, 2014 1:30-3:30 p.m.
For more information, please contact Kelly Porter at

Children at Risk: San Antonio School Breakfast Luncheon
Tuesday, March 25, 2014 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
San Antonio Area Foundation
303 Pearl Parkway, Suite 114, San Antonio, TX, 78215

Livable Houston Initiative

Wednesday, March 26, 2014
12:00PM for 1.5 hrs

H-GAC, 3555 Timmons, 2nd Floor, Meeting Room C

More information 


Sunday Streets: a pilot initiative to promote and improve health of Houstonians

April 6, 2014, 11:00 am to 3:00 pm

White Oak/Quitman Route (Heights)

More information 


Sunday Streets

May 4, 2014, 11am to 3:00pm

Westheimer Route (Hazard to Yoakum)

More information  


American Association of Diabetes Educators Webinar
Obesity Series, Part III
Wednesday, May 7, 2014  1-2:30 p.m., Eastern

More information    


Doctors for Change (DFC) Advocacy Training in Media Outreach General Forum

Tuesday, May 20, 2014 6:30-8 p.m.

University Eye Institute at the UT Health and Biomedical Sciences Building

4901 Calhoun Road

More Information 


Sunday Streets

June 1, 2014, 11am to 3:00pm

Washington/Market Sq (Studemont to Milam)

More information  


American Association of Diabetes Educators Webinar
Obesity Series, Part IV
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
1-2:30 p.m., Eastern

More information