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Starting Right Initiative

Obesity and poor nutrition are taking a toll on America’s children.  According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), childhood obesity rates have almost tripled since 1980.  Weight-related health issues such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and Type 2 diabetes – which used to be almost exclusively adult problems – are also on the rise among the young.

Poor and minority children, who generally experience worse health and have a harder time getting good health care, are more likely to be obese.

The Starting Right Initiative works to prevent, treat and reverse childhood obesity and malnutrition in low-income communities. This program has achieved long-lasting results, helping families improve diet and exercise and giving children a healthier start.

Starting Right aims to empower children and their families through clinical care, health education, mental health support and community services, including:

  • A thorough physical to identify weight and nutrition issues
  • Specialty care for conditions like pre-diabetes and high blood pressure
  • One-on-one or group nutrition counseling
  • Fitness and exercise programs
  • Group health education activities like cooking classes and supermarket outings

The initiative has also supported

  • Developing pediatric obesity screening and diagnostic tools (in affiliation with the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore in New York City)
  • Training providers to identify and address weight and nutrition challenges
  • Developing provider messaging for primary care practitioners, nutritionists, fitness counselors, mental health specialists and health educators
  • Developing bilingual and culturally appropriate health education materials for families dealing with weight and nutrition challenges

In 2011, Walmart Foundation funding enabled the Children's Health Fund to replicate or continue the services of the Starting Right Initiative at seven project locations in our National Network including:

Healthy Families Making Healthy Choices: A Guide to Healthy Eating is available for download in English and Spanish.