Children’s Hospital at Erlanger joins national effort to reverse the obesity epidemic

Chattanooga, Tenn. – With obesity levels in the United States at all-time highs, Children’s Hospital at Erlanger leaders are working together to make local improvements through “Collaborate for Healthy Weight,” a national effort to reverse the epidemic through innovative local partnerships between primary care providers, public health professionals, and leaders of community-based organizations.

Children’s Hospital is one out of 50 locations across the country participating in this groundbreaking program that will bring solutions to the local community and share strategies on a broader scale. The effort is being led by the National Initiative for Children’s Healthcare Quality (NICHQ), in partnership with the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

The U.S. has the highest rate of obesity among all developed nations. At current rates, three in four Americans will become overweight or obese by 2020.

“Obesity constitutes a grave threat to the health and well-being of our nation, with a particularly strong impact on diverse and disadvantaged communities,” said Charles Homer, MD, MPH, president and CEO of NICHQ, a Boston-based non-profit dedicated to improving the care systems responsible for the health of all children. “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to work with 50 pioneering communities across the country to find breakthrough solutions to this serious public health problem.”

“We are delighted that NICHQ has selected our team from Hamilton County to participate in this initiative based on our solid commitment to achieving healthy weight and health equity in our community,” said team leader Joani Jack, MD, FAAP, Medical Director of the Childhood Obesity Program at Children’s Hospital. “We look forward to sharing what we learn in this project with communities in other areas of the country.”

“Tennessee and Hamilton County have one of the highest levels of childhood obesity in the nation,” said Alan Kohrt, MD, Chair of the Department of Pediatrics and Senior Medical Director of Children’s Hospital. “We are excited to be working with the community and our public health system to address this epidemic.”

Along with Children’s Hospital, the cross-sectoral team also includes representatives from:

Alan Kohrt, MD, Chair of the Department of Pediatrics and Senior Medical Director of Children’s Hospital

• Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department
• La Paz Hispanic Health Advocacy Group
• Siskin Institute
• Erlanger’s Southside/Dodson Avenue Community Health Centers-Women’s Health
• City of Chattanooga Head Start/Early Head Start Program
• University of Tennessee College of Medicine, Chattanooga

•The East Chattanooga Improvement, Inc.

This project will focus on reaching the children and youth served at Southside/Dodson Avenue Community Health Centers and the University of Tennessee Pediatrics Primary Care Clinic.

The 50 teams from across the country participating in the Collaborate for Healthy Weight initiative will learn from national experts, exchange ideas, and create plans for becoming best practice models for other communities to follow. The project will run through February 2013. To see a complete list of participating locations, go to:

“We are so proud of these communities that are laying the groundwork for tackling this complex and serious issue,” Dr. Homer added. “As their work gets underway, these efforts will make a huge difference in the lives of children and their families across the nation.”

“Collaborate for Healthy Weight” is a two-phased project supported through the Prevention and Public Health Fund under the Affordable Care Act and made possible by a cooperative agreement from HRSA. NICHQ is leading a coalition of partner organizations that is managing all program logistics and overseeing the work of participating teams.

For more information about this initiative, visit or