Children's Receives $1 Million from New Balance Foundation to Expand Childhood Obesity Program
September 2, 2008
Boston's most at-risk children and families will receive critical nutrition care and counseling thanks to a $1 million grant over the next three years from the New Balance Foundation to support Children's Hospital Boston's Optimal Weight for Life (OWL) Program and its cutting-edge childhood obesity research led by David Ludwig, MD, PhD. As one of the largest pediatric obesity programs in the U.S., the OWL Program is a multi-disciplinary care clinic that evaluates and treats more than 750 at-risk children annually.
"We are grateful for the Foundation's generous gift and long-term commitment to addressing the issue of childhood obesity," said David Ludwig, Children's pediatrician, endocrinologist and OWL Program founding director. "In a time when federal funding is decreasing so dramatically, support of this magnitude is extraordinary and is a model to other companies and foundations."
"The Foundation's major focus is the prevention of childhood obesity and we seek to fund programs that help overweight children and put them on a path towards a healthier future," said Anne Davis, managing trustee, New Balance Foundation. "Twenty percent of children in Boston are currently overweight and another 25 percent are at risk. To address this critical need, we are proud to support the OWL clinic and Dr. Ludwig's world-class research."
The New Balance Foundation grant will enable the OWL Program to enhance its services to all patients. Beyond standard visits to the OWL Clinic, there is also a tremendous need for intensive "wrap-around" services, which greatly improve a child's weight management success yet are not covered by insurance. The services include: behavioral/mental health care; case management; combined child/parent education programs; community resources; and ongoing nutrition and physical fitness guidance.
Dr. Ludwig not only witnesses the physical and physiological effects of childhood obesity and overweight, but also its profound psychosocial toll on children. Ludwig notes, "Obese children tend to be socially isolated, demonstrate disordered eating, anxiety and depression. They are less likely than their thinner counterparts to complete college and are more likely to live in poverty." OWL staff helps families confront the issues and provide guidance and support to improve the health of their children.
Approximately 50 percent of OWL program patients are from low-income backgrounds. There are significant racial, ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in the prevalence of childhood obesity in Boston. As a result, a portion of the funds will help families with extraordinary needs, such as transportation to the clinic/fitness center; food shopping trips; healthy food vouchers; and fitness scholarships to a local YMCA. New Balance Foundation funds will help increase these services at the hospital and in local community health centers.
Additional funds will allow Dr. Ludwig and his team to continue its ongoing clinical research to advance ideas, best practices, treatment and care of obese/overweight children. The greatest benefit to this approach is that it will allow Ludwig to develop new obesity treatments in the lab that can be translated directly into practice at OWL. OWL patients will be the first recipients of study findings.
The New Balance Foundation's primary objective is to promote healthy lifestyles for children and families. Over the last five years, the Foundation's giving has grown from $1.4 million in 2002, to more than $6.4 million to local communities in 2007. In 2008, more than $7.4 million will be granted to more than 100 non-profit organizations. The Foundation recognizes that childhood obesity is a growing epidemic in which the disease rate has more than tripled over the past 20 years. The largest grants from the New Balance Foundation are directed towards childhood obesity research, intervention and prevention.
Children's Hospital Trust
Children's Hospital Boston, an internationally renowned center for medical research and treatment, is one of the only pediatric hospitals nationwide that focuses on pairing world-class research with clinical resources to develop top therapies to treat and cure children. Many of the hospital's scientific advancements have far-reaching implications for treating adults, too - they target diseases including prostate and breast cancer, macular degeneration, and Alzheimer's. For more information or to support Dr. Ludwig's world-class work, visit www.childrenshospital.org/owl.
The New Balance Foundation is a charitable foundation established and funded by Boston-based New Balance Athletic Shoe, Inc. The Foundation's mission is to support effective charitable organizations which perform humanitarian services for the betterment of our children and our local community. For more information, please visit www.newbalancefoundation.org.