Mayor Michael B. Hancock and Denver Environmental Health Executive Director Doug Linkhart today joined with officials from the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) and the American Beverage Association (ABA) in recognizing a new pilot program intended to reduce childhood obesity in West Denver childcare centers.
Denver’s initiative, Healthy Childcare Makes A Healthy Start, achieved first place in the USCM/ABA sponsored 2014 Childhood Obesity Prevention Awards in the Large City category. The award includes a $150,000 grant that will support the pilot program, which is designed to increase the number of Denver childcare centers that incorporate evidence-based healthy eating and active living (HEAL) policies and activities.
Healthy Childcare Makes A Healthy Start will focus initially on 5-10 pilot childcare centers in the eight neighborhoods in City Council District 3 (Villa Park, Barnum West, Barnum, Westwood, Valverde, Athmar Park, Mar Lee, and Ruby Hill), which recent Denver Public Schools data shows, has among the highest obesity rates of children 3 to 18 years of age, than any other council district.
The 2014 Childhood Obesity Prevention Awards recognize cities with outstanding programs that encourage healthy weight through balanced diet choices and regular physical activity.
“This award is recognition of Denver’s deliberate and innovative efforts to fight childhood obesity,” Mayor Hancock said. “With the help of this award and grant, we will be better able to prepare our kids to succeed in the future by encouraging physical activity and healthy eating habits.”
The Childhood Obesity Prevention Awards program is the result of a partnership between USCM and ABA to support and/or enhance mayors’ ongoing childhood obesity prevention programs in their cities.
A total of $445,000 in grants was awarded to support both new and existing programs. Dallas, TX; Little Rock, AR; Monrovia, CA; and York, PA were also recognized for their mayoral-based initiatives.
“Combating childhood obesity has become a top priority for mayors in their cities,” said Tom Cochran, CEO and Executive Director of The U.S. Conference of Mayors. “The best available science demonstrates that children with health problems related to overweight and obesity unfortunately not only fall far behind in school but also can’t compete in the workforce. And that’s why we’re so proud of our partnership with the American Beverage Association, to support pioneering strategies that Mayors and cities are coming up with to eradicate childhood obesity.”