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Press Release

Contra Costa Collaborative tackles childhood obesity epidemic

February 12, 2009

A Contra Costa collaborative is battling the childhood obesity epidemic in Contra Costa County, where one out of every three low-income preschoolers is overweight or obese.

The Healthy and Active Before 5 initiative, a countywide collaborative intended to reduce obesity rates in children up to 5 years old, will recognize community partners and their efforts 11 a.m. to noon today, February 12, at Kaiser Permanente in Martinez. As part of the collaborative, 36 projects have been launched to help change policy and increase options for healthy eating and active living for children, according to Dr. Diane Dooley, a pediatrician with Contra Costa Health Services which is part of the collaborative.

"To make an impact on childhood obesity we need a comprehensive approach that addresses not only individual behavior but the factors that influence eating and physical activity for young children and their families. This is why our community partners are critical," Dooley said.

The Initiative will award 39 certificates today to various local agencies that will be implementing healthy changes in their organizational policies such as an increase in breastfeeding support, healthy vending machine policies, and advocacy for children's physical activity programs.

"With the current economic situation we anticipate obesity rates will increase because of the difficulty in purchasing healthy foods. We are extremely thankful for the agencies who have joined our cause and have committed to making an impact on childhood obesity rates," stated Marianne Balin, an Executive Committee member from another key partner, Kaiser Permanente.

Despite efforts of local providers to educate families on obesity prevention, local data shows no significant decrease in childhood obesity rates, indicating a community effort is needed, Balin said.

"Our Leadership Council has recognized that if we don't deal with childhood obesity now, we may be looking at the first generation to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents because of the diseases associated with obesity," she said.

The Executive Committee of Healthy and Active Before 5 is composed representatives from Kaiser Permanente, First 5 Contra Costa, the Contra Costa Child Care Council, Families CAN, Contra Costa Health Services, and the West County HEAL (Healthy Eating, Active Living) Collaborative.

More information about Healthy and Active Before 5 and the new projects are available online at

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