The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has established the We Can! City Program to assist towns and cities across the nation in mobilizing their communities to prevent childhood overweight.
We Can! (Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity and Nutrition) is a national education program developed by the NIH, a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to help youth ages 8-13 maintain a healthy weight.
The first three cities to be selected for the program are:
South Bend, Indiana
NIH officials will present the mayor of each of the three inaugural cities a specially designed road sign: “We Can! CityUSA ? Working with the National Institutes of Health to promote healthy weight, healthy children.” The presentations are part of two-day regional events hosted by the NIH and local We Can! community sites in Indiana (April 30-May 1) and Georgia (May 3-4). Each event will be attended by 150 community leaders from more than a dozen states. The events will showcase the local efforts and feature national experts on the science-based curricula developed for youth and for parents to promote healthy lifestyles.
“The National Institutes of Health developed We Can! to bring to our communities research-based information and strategies to teach children how to adopt behaviors that can help them maintain a healthy weight,” notes NIH Director Elias Zerhouni, M.D. “Through the efforts of communities like South Bend, Gary, and Roswell, we can make a difference.”
As part of the We Can! City Program, NIH will provide technical assistance on planning and implementing We Can! in the participating cities, as well as materials such as parent handbooks, posters, videos, and the one-stop resource “We Can! Energize Our Community: Toolkit for Action.” Each city has pledged to offer We Can! evidence-based obesity prevention programs to both parents and youth in collaboration with community-based partners. In addition, each city will distribute We Can! tips and information to city employees.
Childhood overweight is a growing national epidemic. The percentage of children and teens who are overweight has more than doubled in the past 30 years, and today one in three children ages 2-19 are overweight or at risk of becoming overweight. Like adults, overweight youth are at risk for health problems such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, heart disease, and asthma.