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Grant from Duke Endowment will support community-based programs to reduce childhood obesity

Friday, December 16, 2016
Sarah Armstrong

The Duke Endowment has awarded a $749,000 grant to Duke Health to support programs aimed at reducing obesity, improving health, and preventing chronic disease among vulnerable children in North Carolina.

The grant will fund a program that partners communities with health care providers in at least six communities across North Carolina, to increase the intensity and efficacy of pediatric obesity treatment. Low-income children and their families will receive clinical care and free access to supervised exercise classes, cooking classes, gardening classes, and parent support groups.

“The future health and well‐being of children is critically undermined by the epidemic of childhood obesity,” says Duke Children’s Sarah Armstrong, MD, associate professor and director of the Duke Healthy Lifestyles Program. “Children with obesity have poor health, are at risk for chronic disease and disability, and suffer low quality of life.”

The program will use a community partnership model in order to reach the families who need the services.  “Locally, we have developed a model partnership between our Healthy Lifestyles clinic and Durham Parks and Recreation,” says Armstrong. “Our aim is to disseminate the community‐healthcare model across North Carolina.” The Durham program is free, open to Healthy Lifestyles Clinic families, and involves a wide variety of programming.

"By investing in effective prevention programs and community partnerships, we believe we can help people keep manageable health concerns from developing into chronic problems," says Lin Hollowell, director of The Duke Endowment's Health Care program area. "Engaging children and their families in healthy habits will enhance their quality of life for years to come."

Based in Charlotte and established in 1924 by industrialist and philanthropist James B. Duke, The Duke Endowment is a private foundation that strengthens communities in North Carolina and South Carolina by nurturing children, promoting health, educating minds and enriching spirits. Since its founding, it has distributed more than $3.4 billion in grants. The Endowment shares a name with Duke University and Duke Energy, but all are separate organizations.