Health Department Announces Pediatric Obesity Outreach Campaign Targeting Pediatricians and Family Practitioners

New campaign gives providers tools to promote nutrition and healthy weight in children

Nearly 40 percent of New York City public school children in grades K-8 have overweight or obesity

pediatric obesity action-kit
February 6, 2019 – The Health Department today announced a pediatric obesity outreach campaign targeting pediatricians and family practitioners in neighborhoods disproportionately burdened by poor health. As part of the campaign, Health Department representatives will conduct one-on-one visits with more than 160 pediatric and family practitioner practices in East and Central Harlem, North and Central Brooklyn, and the South Bronx. Providers and staff will receive a Pediatric Obesity Action Kit containing tools for clinicians and for parents to address a family’s needs related to overweight and obesity.

Nearly 40 percent of New York City public school children in grades K-8 have overweight or obesity. According to Health Department data, the rate of obesity among Black students is about 65 percent greater than among White students. Among Latino students, the rate is 97 percent greater than among White students. In addition, only 20 percent of parents report that their child eats five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

“Giving providers and parents customized tools to become champions for healthy foods and more physical activity is an essential component of turning the tide on pediatric obesity,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “A lack of affordable and healthy food options, limited opportunities for safe physical activity outdoors, and the constant barrage of advertisements for junk foods and sugary drinks targeted at children can make it challenging for children and their families to maintain healthy diets and weights.”

“Addressing weight can be challenging because of stigma and the negative consequences, especially on children. There are many causes of obesity, and providers are in the perfect position to help support families overcome barriers to having a healthy weight,” said Deputy Commissioner Dr. Sonia Angell. “This outreach campaign brings community clinics and their patients the tools they need to make long lasting changes.”

“Visits with children at pediatric and family practice offices will help focus efforts on helping children develop better eating habits,” said Assistant Speaker Felix W Ortiz. “Health cannot be compromised. I cannot over emphasize the need for people to start healthy eating practices at an early age.” 

“Instilling in our children healthy diet and exercise habits early on is crucial to giving them a fair shot at a healthy life,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “As an elected official, I am glad to see the Department of Health spreading its plan for New York City’s children through outreach as part of the Obesity Action Kit. As a parent, I am hopeful this plan will help our City's children learn healthy habits such as not drinking soda, remaining physically active and having a plan to stay in shape.”

“Urban Health Plan is proud to have been aligned with the Public Health Detailing Program since its inception, as well as part of the 2009 pediatric obesity campaign,” said Dr. Acklema Mohammad, Chair of Pediatrics for Urban Health Plan. “The campaign brought great value to both our providers and patients because the materials and resources are extremely patient-friendly and easy to use, which help lead to successful, positive outcomes with our patients. We are looking forward to the launch of the new pediatric obesity campaign and the efforts to promote healthy habits to children and their families.”

The Action Kit encourages pediatricians and family practitioners to:

  • Assess all children and youth (ages 0 to 21) to identify those who have overweight and obesity or who are at risk for obesity.
  • Screen all families for food insecurity and provide referrals to food-assistance programs or local emergency food providers.
  • Engage children, youth and families about strategies to prevent and address obesity, such as eating healthy foods, being physically active, getting enough sleep, avoiding sugary drinks, limiting screen time, and choosing breastfeeding.
  • Connect families to appropriate behavioral interventions, community programs and ways to support healthy eating and physical activity opportunities in their communities.

The Action Kit also offers parents ways to work with children and teens to make healthy choices:

Avoid sugary drinks.

  • Pack a whole piece of fruit in your child’s lunch instead of a juice drink or 100% fruit juice. Remember: 100% fruit juice is still full of natural sugar and calories.
  • Give only breast milk, formula and water to infants.
  • Serve water and plain (unsweetened) skim or 1% milk to children.
  • Keep only healthy beverages, such as water, seltzer, unsweetened iced tea and low-fat or fat-free plain milk in your fridge.
  • Don’t order blended coffee drinks, which can have a lot of sugar, calories and caffeine.
  • Make smoothies at home without added sugar.

Step away from the screen and move.

  • Move together as a family every night. Dance, play an active indoor game or go for a walk after dinner.
  • Get off the subway or bus at an earlier stop with your children and walk the rest of the way.
  • Have your family help with the housework. Vacuuming and other household chores are a great way to burn calories.

Make mealtime family time.

  • Schedule meals and snacks. This way, your family will know when to expect meals and won’t snack on unhealthy foods beforehand.
  • Start with the right-sized plate. Most plates are 9 inches across, but a 7-inch plate is better for young children.
  • Allow young children to serve themselves. Most children ages 3 and older can serve themselves with adult supervision.
  • Fill half of a child’s plate with fruits and vegetables. A quarter of their plate should be lean protein and a quarter should be whole grains or starches.
  • Set healthy examples for your family. Eat vegetables and your kids will too.
  • Patience works better than pressure. Offer your family fruits and vegetables many times and in different ways.
  • When eating out, choose the small portion. If the portion is still large, share it or take half home for later.
  • Children should be encouraged, but never forced to eat.

About Public Health Detailing

The Health Department’s Public Health Detailing program works with primary care providers, dentists, pharmacists and other clinical and community members to improve patient care.  Health Department representatives deliver evidence-based strategies to manage chronic diseases and connect health care providers with community resources. To support the adoption of these best practices into routine care, representatives distribute Action Kits containing clinical tools, provider resources and patient education materials during visits. The program targets three communities in New York City burdened by disproportionately poor health: East and Central Harlem, North and Central Brooklyn, and the South Bronx, which house the Neighborhood Health Action Centers.



MEDIA CONTACT: Stephanie Buhle: (347) 396-4177,