New initiative launched to fight childhood obesity

Gov. Jay Inslee yesterday announced the launch of the “Healthiest Next Generation Council” as part of his initiative to improve children’s health in Washington state.

Speaking at the “Coalescing for Change: Community-based Health Solutions” conference, Inslee described how increasing health challenges such as obesity are compromising the futures of young Washingtonians. As obesity rates climb, health experts warn this may be the first generation of children to have a lower life expectancy than their parents.

“Gold standard research shows we can bend the curve of childhood obesity if we act early in the course of children’s lives and by making health a focus in the places where children spend the most time,” Inslee said.

Inslee, who has made improvements in children’s health a key goal since being elected to office, worked with legislators earlier this year to secure funding for his initiative. The public-private partnership will develop strategies to reduce obesity in children such as promoting breastfeeding, supporting schools in providing more nutritious meal and drink options, and encouraging children to be more active.

The council’s goal is to identify successful efforts already underway in schools and communities and find ways to replicate or expand those efforts statewide, especially for children and families in most need.

“While I was a principal, I saw first-hand how important health, fitness and nutrition were to educating students,” said Randy Dorn, Washington’s Superintendent of Public Instruction. “Without those foundations, it’s tough for students to learn.”

The council held its first meeting on Thursday to discuss proposed long- and short-term recommendations. Members include the superintendent of public instruction, legislative leaders, district superintendents, K-12 and early learning experts, leaders from private business, health care and community groups and parents and grandparents.

The Washington State Dairy Council, representing the state’s dairy farmers, and Seattle Children’s Hospital have also joined the effort to promote early health among the state’s children.


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