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Trenton groups are teaming up to combat obesity | Editorial

By: Times of Trenton Editorial Board –

It takes a village to teach youngsters the importance of making wise choices when it comes to eating habits: baked versus fried, low-fat versus calorie-laden, apples versus puffy Cheez Doodles.

And it takes that same village to hammer home the benefits of remaining active rather than languishing on a sofa with a can of high-fructose soft drink in one hand and a cheeseburger in the other.

BGC_CHC pic2locally-based initiative called the Community Health Collaborative is all about educating parents, caregivers and children on ways to prevent obesity and its attendant ills, particularly type 2 diabetes.

Novo Nordisk funds the program, which is coordinated by the Trenton Health Team. The team represents a partnership of area hospitals and the city’s health department.

Specifically, money from the multinational pharmaceutical company pays for dramatic presentations, gardening and cooking demonstrations, taste testing sessions and play activities, among other programming.

The Community Health Collaborative will be coordinated by the Trenton Health Team to promote a healthy life for children.

In addition to its link with diabetes, the Mayo Clinic says obesity in youngsters is directly related to high blood pressure and high cholesterol, all risk factors for heart disease.

With more than 3 million new cases of childhood obesity diagnosed in the country every year, Novo Nordisk and its civic partners couldn’t have chosen a better time to set their plan in motion.

The Centers for Disease Control report that obesity has more than doubled in the nation’s children and quadrupled in adolescents in the last 30 years.

BGC_CHC pic3Working with the Trenton Health Team (THT) to help reverse these figures are Isles Inc., the Boys and Girls Club of Mercer County, the YMCA of Trenton, the YMCA State Alliance, George Street Playhouse, GoNoodle, Wellness in the Schools and The College of New Jersey.

According to THT, Novo Nordisk has committed $500,000 per year for three to five years to fund the program.

Recognizing the role public schools play in keeping their student healthy, Lucy Feria, interim superintendent, has expressed her support for the collaborative, noting that children’s health and academic achievement are closely linked.

The village has its work cut out for it. You’re not going to reverse in a year a societal trend that’s been building for decades.

But the community partnership approached as envisioned by Trenton Mayor Eric Jackson has a solid chance of succeeding against formidable odds.

With a little help from all these friends, maybe we can hope to see a generation of robust, hardy and active children who value physical activity and healthy food choices above the alternatives.