HHS Awards $3.6 Million Grant for Obesity Prevention & Tobacco Control


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On Monday (Oct. 1), a $3.6 million grant was awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to help fun children’s obesity prevention and tobacco control.

Seattle Children’s Hospital, Public Health – Seattle & King County (PHSKC), and Healthy King County Coalition (HKCC) received the Community Transformation Grant (CTG) which will fund Seattle Children’s Hospital and its partners to work collaboratively with youth, families and communities in South Seattle and South King County on obesity prevention and tobacco control, particularly among youth.

“Parents and schools work hard to give children opportunities to thrive and now, thanks to the partnerships and funding made possible through this grant, families will have more tools to help their families stay healthy and reach their full potential,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine.

Administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the CTG program is a comprehensive community health improvement initiative launched in 2011 and funded through the Affordable Care Act’s Prevention and Public Health Fund. CTG funds support public health efforts to reduce chronic diseases, promote healthier lifestyles, reduce health disparities and control health care spending in small communities.

Children’s, PHSKC and HKCC will work with local governments, schools, hospitals, low-income housing groups, childcare and youth organizations to implement changes in communities that make healthy choices easier for children and families. Areas of focus include the cities of Auburn, Burien, Des Moines, Kent, North Highline, Renton, SeaTac and Tukwila, and the Seattle neighborhoods of Beacon Hill, Georgetown and South Park. This area has a combined population of more than 479,000.

The grant will assist communities, institutions, and organizations in preventing obesity and tobacco use in three areas:

Nutrition:

  • Increase availability and promotion of healthful and locally produced food and drinks in schools, hospitals and other public institutions.
  • Reduce sugary drink consumption through community engagement, increased awareness and decreased availability of sugary drinks in organizations and institutions.

Physical Activity:

  • Increase physical activity in schools, childcare and after-school programs.
  • Make communities pedestrian and bicycle-friendly through changes in land use and planning policies.
  • Improve access to public spaces for active recreation.

Tobacco:

  • Create more smoke-free parks and public housing.

Overall, HHS awarded approximately $70 million in prevention grants to 40 awardees focused on improving the health of small communities across the nation. These new funds will support areas with fewer than 500,000 people in neighborhoods, school districts, villages, towns, cities and counties. Awardees represent organizations committed to improving health from a multitude of sectors.

This Seattle area grant is entitled “Transforming the Health of South King County: Working with small communities to reduce regional health inequities.” It is the third largest in the country given out in this round of the CTG. Grant leads include: Brian Saelens, PhD, health researcher at Seattle Children’s Hospital; Elizabeth Bennett, MPH, Director, Guest Services, Partnerships and Advocacy at Seattle Children’s Hospital; James Krieger, MD, MPH, Chief of Chronic Disease Prevention at Public Health – Seattle & King County; and Shelley Cooper-Ashford, Co-Chair of the Healthy King County Coalition.

King County Tobacco and Obesity Statistics
In 2010, King County students who reported smoking cigarettes in the past 30 days included 4 percent of 8th graders, 9 percent of 10th graders and 15 percent of 12th graders. This translates to at least 10,000 middle and high school cigarette smokers. Youth with the highest cigarette smoking rates are American Indian/Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander and Hispanic/Latino.

One in five youth in King County is overweight or obese. Rates are highest among males, youth of color and those in South King County. The prevalence of obesity puts children at greater risk of being obese as adults and developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes and other obesity-related illnesses. Adult obesity rates are 21 percent in King County and are estimated at 27 percent in the focus areas.

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