King County Sees Obesity Decline
Yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control released some amazing news for King County. Between 2010 and 2012, King County saw a 17 percent decrease in obesity rates among eight, 10th and 12th graders in schools funded by the Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) federal grant program.
The seven school districts funded by CPPW to increase consumption of healthy foods and beverages, as well as physical activity, were targeted for the work in part because of their lower income levels and disparities in health status metrics when compared to other area schools: “One of the poorest regions of the state, middle- and high-school students in South King County are 1.6 times more likely to be at an unhealthy weight than students in other areas.”
Unfunded school districts did not see the same decrease in obesity rates. The data shows a narrowing gap in obesity rates between school districts in lower income and higher income areas of the county.
Although the Childhood Obesity Prevention Coalition (COPC) is known for being a statewide group fighting for solutions to the obesity crisis, we often engage in local work throughout the state that informs and strengthens our overall efforts. In 2011, we had such an immense opportunity to be a part of the two-year CPPW initiative in King County.
Through CPPW, we launched Soda Free Sundays – a community-wide challenge to take a break from sugary drinks, one day at a time. Over the course of the campaign, over 1,000 individuals pledged to cut back on their sugary drink consumption in an effort to improve their own health. We also had 55 organizations throughout the community sign on in support of the campaign, in addition pledges from the Seattle Mayor and entire City Council, as finally we received a resolution of support from the King County Board of Health.
In 2013, we are building on the success of Soda Free Sundays by launching Hydrate for Health. We are working with businesses, youth-serving organizations, schools, churches and more in cities in the South region of King County. By using the right tools and resources, these communities are promoting awareness access to healthy beverage choices by making it easy to get a healthy, low-sugar drink when you and your family needs one. It’s all about making the healthy choice the easy choice.
Our hope is that the success of initiatives like CPPW can be spread, and built upon in areas throughout Washington state. Declines in obesity rates can be difficult to demonstrate due to data collection and analysis lags, but Washington state is beginning to see the measurable impact of obesity prevention efforts statewide (see recent data on obesity declines in low income Washington state preschoolers). COPC looks forward to celebrating more positive results of our collective efforts and healthier generations in the years to come.
To learn more about the CPPW work in King County in 2010-2012, you can read the Public Health – Seattle & King County press release here, and the Seattle Times coverage here.