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Promoting Healthy Food Access and Active Environments

Why this needs our attention

When a family cannot access healthy food in their community or their environment does not support being active, it can affect every aspect of a child’s or adolescent’s life. When one or both of these factors are missing or diminished, youth may struggle with obesity and the associated long-term health effects, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Obesity can also hinder academic performance and lead to bullying, stigma, anxiety and depression.

In America today, over 19% of young people have obesity – that is nearly 14 million youth. Hispanic/Latinx and African American/Black youth are disproportionately affected. These disparities are mirrored in Chicago, where the highest rates of obesity are found on the West and South sides, predominately communities of color with lower social, economic and educational opportunities.

What Lurie Children's is doing to address it

The Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children (CLOCC), supported by decades of research on obesity’s causes and solutions, takes an "ecological" approach to childhood obesity prevention. CLOCC’s approach includes a focus on the root causes of obesity (e.g., structural racism, poverty) and the support, of interventions to address them. The approach also includes an emphasis on environmental change, working to ensure that all children and families have access to healthy food and safe opportunities for physical activity where they live, learn, and play. CLOCC collaborates with child-serving institutions like schools, childcare centers, and after-school programs to ensure they have the best available information and resources for encouraging healthy eating and physical activity. CLOCC also develops and disseminates educational materials and messaging that help youth and families understand the importance of healthy eating and physical activity and provide recommendations for adopting a healthy lifestyle.

CLOCC is a network comprised of hundreds of organizations and thousands of individuals across Chicago and Illinois working at the federal, state and local levels to improve health outcomes for youth and families, ensuring that the supports for eating healthy and staying physically active are always within reach.

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®, an evidence-based health message for pregnancy and early-childhood (0-3yr)
  • 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
  • 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