Outside of the hospital walls, Lurie Children's is working to help prevent childhood obesity in Chicago.
Obesity creates long-term health concerns for children. Being overweight or obese can increases a child's risk for developing type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and certain cancers, and raise the likelihood for developing asthma by more than 50%. More than half of overweight and obese adolescents already display at least one risk factor for heart disease.
Obesity can also lead to bullying, stigma, stress and depression.
While recent data show that obesity rates are beginning to level off after years of rapid increases, that rate still remains 300% higher than it was in the 1980s. In America today, nearly 17% of children are obese. Recent projections predict that 57.3% of children will be obese at age 35 and that roughly half of that prevalence will occur during childhood. Even more concerning are the significantly higher obesity rates among children of color. Nationally, 22% of Hispanic children and 19.5% of African American children are obese, much higher than the 14.7% rate for white children. These disparities are mirrored in Chicago's communities of color: in neighborhoods such as Roseland, Humboldt Park and West Town, nearly 50% of children are obese.
The Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children (CLOCC) is supported by decades of research that compels it to take an "ecological" approach to childhood obesity prevention. CLOCC focuses on the root causes of obesity and develops, supports, and disseminates interventions to address each one. CLOCC works with hundreds of organizations across Chicago to address individual behaviors, family practices, and environmental factors that contribute to obesity. Because public policy and social norms shape the food and physical activity environments in which children live, learn, and play, CLOCC works to inform local health policy and advocate for healthy kids at all levels of government.