To solve America’s childhood obesity crisis, health care professionals, policymakers, educators and community advocates from across the country are gathering in San Diego this week to share and discuss emerging research, best practices, community-based efforts and effective policies that improve the health of American children.

Nation-wide issue

A top priority will be addressing the huge disparity in obesity rates among low-income and minority children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), obesity affects 12.7 million American children and adolescents, that’s one-in-six. But among low-income and minority children, those numbers climb dramatically. The CDC shows that these youth are 2.7 times more likely to be obese, a condition that leads to a host of health problems, including diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.

It’s no wonder then that this week’s 9th Biennial Childhood Obesity Conference has made addressing these inequities the conference theme.

“A top priority will be addressing the huge disparity in obesity rates among low-income and minority children.”

Overarching goals

All children, regardless of income, should have the opportunity to reach their full mental and physical potential. Access to healthy foods and physical activity options is a critical component of that reality. For that reason, the conference attendees will learn about innovative new programs being tested all over the nation to help children, especially those from low-income communities and communities of color.

One of the nation’s best known nutrition programs, the school lunch program, in addition to  the school breakfast and afterschool snack programs, help hungry children find healthy alternatives to the sugary and salty foods and beverages that might otherwise be available to them. Understanding how to accelerate, improve and enhance these and other childhood obesity initiatives will fuel excited debate and dialogue among the nearly 2,000 health professionals attending the four-day conference.