Let's Fight Obesity by Teaching Kids About Food

Childhood obesity continues to be a serious issue in America. Shockingly, for the first time in two centuries, children's life expectancies are lower than their parents' — clearly an unacceptable state of affairs in the world's wealthiest country. Obesity among minority children is even more pronounced. One in five black children is obese compared with one in seven white children. Fortunately, the seriousness of this issue is well-recognized nationally, as evidenced by the First Lady's Let's Move campaign and the vast number of grants being awarded to obesity-alleviation initiatives across the nation. (See Aetna Foundation: Grants for Public Health.)

As part of its crusade against obesity among children, the Aetna Foundation recently awarded $163,000 to the Landon Pediatric Foundation to extend the antiobesity online curriculum My Healthy World (first piloted in Arizona, California, and Maryland in 2011) to the 2013-14 school year. The grant also will allow the program to include up to 1,000 more students in Maryland, Illinois, Texas, and Washington, D.C. In addition, the award covers the Landon Foundation's evaluation of the curriculum.

My Healthy World is a fun K-12 online course promoting healthy behaviors (such as diet and exercise) among children. The program's social media and mobile-device-friendly features make it particularly appealing to children. It also allows for parent engagement, further reinforcing healthy behaviors.

The Landon Foundation/My Healthy World grant is part of Aetna's wider strategy to address obesity among underserved populations, alongside its two other priority areas (health-care equity and integration of health care). (See Aetna Foundation: Grants for Disease.) Approximately 20% of Aetna's annual donations are directed to its obesity program, and it is particularly generous in its funding of projects involving children. Awards are made through a national program (with grants ranging from $50,000 to $150,000 for two years) and a regional program (with grants ranging from $25,000 to 40,000 for one year). Many of Aetna's obesity-related donations are made through its regional program, which considers unsolicited applications on a rolling basis. If you plan to apply for funding, note that regional grants should relate to one or more of Aetna's 16 priority states, with an emphasis on specific cities. Further information on the application process can be found here.