Connecticut Children’s Launches Program to Prevent Childhood Obesity

Categories: Donor Story, Medical Center News

Connecticut Children’s Medical Center Foundation secured a substantial grant from Kohl’s recently to launch the Kohl’s Start Childhood Off Right (Kohl’s SCOR) initiative to educate parents about childhood obesity prevention from birth. Kohl’s awarded Connecticut Children’s Office for Community Child Health a $350,000 grant to support the education of pediatric care offices, community organizations, nurse visitation services, and parents directly on widely accepted national guidelines for infants’ nutrition, from birth to 2. The grant is one of several awarded by Kohl’s in 2017 through a national competition to improve children’s health.

Kohl’s SCOR will create a multi-faceted community-wide obesity prevention intervention to address nutrition, arguably one of the most significant individual factors in early childhood growth and development. By partnering with the Hartford community and investing in early prevention efforts, Kohl’s SCOR will improve the nutritional status of Hartford’s youngest children and work with their families to start childhood off right and put them on a trajectory for a lifelong healthy weight.

Childhood obesity has tripled in the past 30 years and disproportionately affects low income, black, and Latino children. Obese children are at increased risk for chronic health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, joint problems, asthma, and mental health disorders. A recently released University of Connecticut study showed that 32 percent of Hartford 3-5 year olds are overweight or obese. Obese school aged children have a higher risk than normal weight children of becoming obese adolescents and adults. The direct costs of childhood obesity are estimated to be over $14 billion annually, according to a study published in the journal Health Affairs.

Good nutrition and regular physical activity are crucial to optimal health and development outcomes and to long-term health and well-being. Mounting evidence is showing the first 1,000 days from conception to age 2 to be a critical period for the prevention of obesity. With the general lack of long-term success of obesity interventions for older children, and with children’s food and taste preferences largely developed by age 2, healthy nutrition and physical activity should begin from birth.

The Kohl’s SCOR initiative is led by Connecticut Children’s pediatrician Nancy Trout, MD and Stacy Chandna, director of the Human Research Protection Program at Connecticut Children’s.