AAFP, MetLife Bring New Approach To Childhood Obesity

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

The American Academy of Family Physicians and the AAFP Foundation have announced a new partnership with MetLife Foundation, which is providing a $215,000 grant to fund a program designed to counter the national epidemic of childhood obesity. The program is designed to empower family physicians with new ways to promote physical activity, nutrition, and emotional well-being for the entire family. The endeavor will be administered by Americans In Motion, an AAFP initiative designed to improve the health of all Americans through multifaceted fitness programs.

"In order to combat childhood obesity effectively, we need to target not just the children, but the entire family," said Jim King, M.D., president of the AAFP. "Children learn by example, and a household that, as a unit, makes sure to include regular exercise and balanced diets in its day-to-day life is much more likely to have children who are happy and healthy."


The partnership aims to reduce childhood obesity by producing and distributing an educational DVD and children's book, fur use in physician waiting rooms, that encourages patients to talk with family physicians about fitness and to work together to develop a plan that enables sustained healthy lifestyle choices among family members. The educational materials, due to be distributed in the spring and summer of 2009 to more than 36,600 family physicians and 457 family medicine residency training programs, will be available in both English and Spanish. The materials will discuss fitness for the family, with a special emphasis on ways to maintain fitness for children through a balance of physical activity, nutrition, and emotional well-being.

"The family physician can help combat the growing threat of childhood obesity, by providing families with much-needed information from a trusted source," said Sibyl Jacobson, president of MetLife Foundation. "MetLife Foundation is pleased to help support this program, which offers information about the importance of making smart decisions that can result in longer, healthier lives."

Today's children may have a shorter life expectancy than their parents because of obesity-related illnesses. Almost 60 percent of Americans do not get sufficient daily exercise, and almost 65 percent of Americans are overweight or obese. Family physicians conduct 210 million patient visits each year, and are in a strong position to positively influence the fitness habits of their patients, helping to fight childhood obesity on a national scale.