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Promoting Healthy Food Access and Active Environments

Why this needs our attention

Lack of access to healthy, nutritious foods or safe spaces to exercise and play can contribute to childhood obesity. Youth who are obese are more likely to be obese as adults and are at higher risk for Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Childhood obesity can also take an emotional and social toll, leading to sleeping disorders, anxiety, depression and low-self-esteem. In Chicago, over a third of children and teens are obese or overweight.

What Lurie Children's is doing to address it

Housed at Lurie Children’s, the Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children (CLOCC) is a large network of individuals and organizations working at the city, state and federal levels to ensure that the supports for eating healthy and staying physically active are always within reach.

Supported by decades of research on obesity’s causes and solutions, CLOCC takes an "ecological" approach to childhood obesity prevention that includes several key areas, including improving healthy eating options, making walking and biking easier in our neighborhoods, providing clear and accurate nutrition and lifestyle recommendations to caregivers, ensuring healthy eating and physical activity are incorporated into school settings, and advocating for health-supporting institutional and public policies.

Our impact

  • Supports the efforts of more than 50 Chicago Public Schools to achieve various health and wellness standards through the Healthy CPS designation annually.
  • Trained more than 9,400 staff from over 2,300 organizations on 5-4-3-2-1 Go!®, an evidence-based, healthy lifestyle message for children and families developed by CLOCC.
  • Developed fiveSMART®, evidence-based health message that provides guidance for pregnancy and early childhood.
  • Engaged communities in the CLOCC Neighborhood Walkability and Accessibility Initiative to identify strengths and weaknesses of neighborhood environments and address barriers to walking and other forms of active transportation with audits of more than 50 miles of Chicago streets. This engagement has led to transportation infrastructure changes from Belmont Cragin to Garfield Park.
  • Led an initiative to develop Healthy Corner Stores in Chicago and across Cook County to expand access to healthy food and beverages at the neighborhood level.
  • Successfully advocated for the Illinois Fresh Food Fund, the Local Food and Farms Incentive Fund, and improved childcare licensing requirements to support nutrition and physical activity.
  • Increased seven West Side food pantries’ capacity to provide heathy food and nutrition education to their clients.