National League of Cities Launches Effort to Combat Childhood Obesity in the South

Feb 18, 2010, 08:00 ET from National League of Cities

Healthy Southern Cities Project Active in Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi

WASHINGTON, Feb. 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National League of Cities (NLC) Institute for Youth, Education, and Families today launched the Municipal Leadership for Healthy Southern Cities project in partnership with the Foundation for the Mid South (FMS). The project will help communities confront a situation in which more than 23 million children and adolescents are currently overweight or obese, and the associated health problems are expected to cost the nation $14 billion per year. It is supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through its Leadership for Healthy Communities national program, which is designed to support state and local government leaders nationwide in their efforts to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic.


The project will help local officials advance specific policies that promote healthy eating and active living by providing intensive technical assistance to one large city in each of three Southern states: Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi. NLC will also work with FMS to assist up to 30 smaller, more rural communities from these states using a new model of assistance and support.  

In addition to creating peer networking and learning opportunities, NLC will employ a "train the trainer" approach, with assistance from FMS, to train state-level intermediaries on how to provide technical assistance to rural communities seeking to combat childhood obesity at the local level.

Drawing upon lessons from previous initiatives focused on reducing childhood obesity rates, NLC has identified two areas of policy change -- increased access to recreational opportunities and increased access to healthy foods -- as key needs and prime opportunities for urban and rural cities and towns in the South. The project will help participating cities create community wellness plans that include the adoption and implementation of local policies to improve access to both recreational opportunities and fresh, nutritious foods.

At the conclusion of the project, NLC will publish an issue brief featuring examples of city-level policy change across the South and highlighting lessons to guide future efforts in both large and small communities.  

Additionally, on February 18, NLC will host an audio conference, entitled:

"Curbing Childhood Obesity: Lessons from the Six-City Community Wellness Project."

WHO: Municipal and school district representatives from Savannah, Ga., and Jackson, Tenn.

WHAT: Representatives will discuss a previous NLC initiative focused on developing comprehensive community wellness policies and strategies.

For more information on NLC's work on childhood obesity, visit

The Institute for Youth, Education, and Families, a special entity within the National League of Cities, helps municipal leaders take action on behalf of the children, youth and families in their communities.  NLC launched the YEF Institute in January 2000 in recognition of the unique and influential roles that mayors, city council members and other local leaders can play in strengthening families and improving outcomes for children and youth.

Leadership for Healthy Communities is a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation designed to support local and state government leaders nationwide in their efforts to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic through public policies that promote active living, healthy eating and access to healthy foods. For more information, visit

The National League of Cities is the nation's oldest and largest organization devoted to strengthening and promoting cities as centers of opportunity, leadership and governance. NLC is a resource and advocate for 19,000 cities, towns and villages, representing more than 218 million Americans.

SOURCE National League of Cities