The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation announced last week that it will commit at least $500 million over the next five years to fight childhood obesity, which it regards as one of the most urgent public-health threats facing the nation.
Described as the largest financial commitment to the issue by any foundation, the pledge is aimed at reversing by 2015 an epidemic of such obesity, according to a news release from the Princeton, N.J.-based philanthropy. More than 33 percent of U.S. children and adolescents—or 25 million young people—are overweight or obese, it said.
The foundation’s giving will focus on improving access to affordable, healthful foods and opportunities for safe physical activity in schools and communities. Special emphasis will be placed on reaching children at greatest risk for obesity and related health problems, including those who are members of minority groups or live in low-income communities.
Under the new initiative, the foundation will expand its school-based programs; help states and communities coordinate their efforts; advocate change and evaluate the impact of new approaches; and encourage food and beverage companies to offer healthier products and change their marketing practices.
A version of this article appeared in the April 11, 2007 edition of Education Week