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Preventing Childhood Obesity
A Healthy Imperative for Connecticut’s Next Generation

A forum sponsored by the Connecticut Commission on Children,
Connecticut Department of Public Health & the Connecticut Childhood Obesity Council


Friday, November 7, 2008
Legislative Office Building, 300 Capitol Avenue, Hartford


Chris Dodd and Kelly BrownellCharles Chatterton and Claire SchonningKevin Washington
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More than 300 state and municipal officials, health-care professionals, educators, advocates, business people, students, and parents came to the Legislative Office Building in Hartford on November 7, 2008, to discuss strategies for responding effectively to the childhood obesity epidemic gripping Connecticut and the nation.

Preventing Childhood Obesity logoThe forum, “Preventing Childhood Obesity,” was held by the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Connecticut Commission on Children, in collaboration with the Connecticut Childhood Obesity Council.

Strategies reviewed at the forum included:

  • New York City's recent enactment of requirements for menu labeling and removal of trans fats from restaurant food.
  • "No Child Left Inside," the state Department of Environmental Protection's campaign to encourage Connecticut families and visitors alike to enjoy all the recreational resources and outdoor activities available in Connecticut's state parks, forests, and waterways.
  • The groundbreaking success story in Somerville, Massachusetts, where community leaders undertook an initiative to improve children's weight.

The keynote speaker was Kelly Brownell, Ph.D., author and director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy at Yale University.  Dr. Brownell is a recognized expert on nutrition and food policy; he was included in Time magazines 2006 list of the “World’s 100 Most Influential People.”  He has published four books, including “Food Fight,” and more than 300 scientific articles and chapters.

Commission on Children and DPH officials framed the obesity problem with disturbing statistics.  

“The rate of childhood obesity in our state and the nation is staggering,” DPH Commissioner Dr. J. Robert Galvin said. “The number of children aged 6 to 11 in our society that public health defines as ‘obese’ has more than doubled in the past 20 years. The rate among adolescents aged 12 to 19 has more than tripled.”

Elaine Zimmerman, executive director of the Commission on Children, said the forum was designed especially for town officials, community leaders, and their families to help them learn proven and successful strategies used in other communities across the country.

“They now can use these tools in Connecticut’s towns and cities that promote healthy lifestyle habits, including healthy eating and physical activity that can lower the risk of our children becoming obese and developing related diseases,” she said.

Obesity is the result of caloric imbalance (too few calories expended for the amount of calories consumed) and is determined by genetics and health. An estimated 61 percent of obese young people have at least one additional risk factor for heart disease, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure.

Children who are obese are at greater risk for bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and social and psychological problems such as stigmatization and poor self-esteem. Obese young people are more likely than children of normal weight to become overweight or obese adults, and therefore are at greater risk for associated adult health problems, including heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer, and osteoarthritis.

The Connecticut Childhood Obesity Council was created by the Connecticut Commission on Children and the Connecticut Department of Public Health. Its mission includes establishing state priorities for combating childhood obesity and coordinating statewide initiatives.