Where Is the Nexus Between Hunger and Obesity?

It's a paradox of the modern era: How are the populations most plagued by childhood obesity the same populations plagued by hunger? And how do you get children in impoverished communities to eat well, given a dearth of healthy options (and grocery stories) and an abundance of cheap, high-fat, pre-packaged foods (available at fast-food joints)? The dual burden of hunger and childhood obesity is a complex one — and San Francisco's Community Initiatives is tackling it head-on.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) is focusing heavily on combating childhood obesity. It has invested more than $14 million in related projects. (See

) Many of these grants are relatively small, given the size of RWJF's endowment, and lesser-known community organizations with innovative ideas are benefiting from the foundation's investments in projects of different sizes and scopes.

Community Initiatives, a non-profit incubator with projects in a range of areas, received a grant from RWJF to support an advocacy campaign highlighting and addressing the dual burden of hunger and childhood obesity in the United States. The project, having just received a grant, is very much in development, but it will be interesting to see how Community Initiatives tackles the hunger/childhood obesity issue as its advocacy campaign matures. More awareness about the factors behind the coexistence of hunger and obesity among children would be welcome in the ongoing dialogue about childhood nutrition.

Hopefully, the Community Initiatives project will bring about change in several related policy areas, including food deserts, which are common in places where children are simultaneously underfed and just fed poorly.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation continues to accept proposals as part of its larger campaign to stem the tide of childhood obesity generally by 2015. Want in? Proposal submission details are here, and the next deadline for ideas is coming up in March.