marc-h-morial_web.jpgWashington D.C. — The National Urban League recently announced at the Partnership for a Healthier America’s “Building a Healthier Future Summit” its partnership with leading out-of-school-time organizations to unify principles for nutrition and physical activity.

In addition to the National Urban League, the Healthy Kids Out of School initiative is a collaboration between the Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts of the USA, the National Council of La Raza, the National Council of Youth Sports, Pop Warner, US Youth Soccer, the YMCA of the USA and 4-H. 

The leaders of these organizations, convened by ChildObesity180, developed universal nutrition and physical activity principles from a broad list of evidenced based recommendations for combating childhood obesity — marking the first time leaders from these groups have worked together toward a common goal.

“Healthy Kids Out of School represents a groundbreaking collaboration of major youth-focused groups in a new and strategic effort,” said Peter Dolan, chairman of ChildObesity180.  “These organizations are demonstrating the essential leadership and cooperation necessary to counter the childhood obesity epidemic and to meaningfully improve the health and well-being of the tens of millions of children who participate in their programs.”

“The National Urban League is pleased to join the ChildObesity180 Initiative and our national partners in this collaborative movement. Many children in communities of color are more likely to be obese and live in unsafe communities where there are few opportunities for physical activity and limited access to healthy food,” said National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial.

“Now, by adopting these three principles in after school programs and as a part of out-of-school time activities we are coming together to offer our children practical, smart, cost-effective measures for a lifetime of lessons about healthy food choices and physical activity.”

A significant percentage of school-aged children in the U.S. are enrolled in out-of-school-time activities, including a large number of rural, urban, and low-income children who are particularly vulnerable to the poor health outcomes linked to childhood obesity. Because of this broad reach, out-of-school programs have been identified as a promising area for promoting healthy habits and preventing childhood obesity.

However, there has been variability in the quality of foods and beverages served and opportunities for physical activity offered to children participating in out-of-school-time programs. 

Recognizing this opportunity for action, leaders from the nine Child Obesity 180-affiliated organizations identified and agreed upon three sustainable, actionable principles that are sufficiently flexible foradaptation to local environments and cultures. They are:

• Drink Right:  Choose water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages.

• Move More:  Boost movement and physical activity in all programs.

• Snack Smart:  Fuel up on fruits and vegetables.

“Aligning these nine organizations with unifying principles ensures that the tens of millions of children who participate in out-of-school programs are consistently encouraged to eat and drink healthfully and to be active, regardless of where they spend their time out of school,” said Dr. Christina D. Economos, associate professor at Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and director of ChildObesity180.


Photo: National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial