The NAACP Health Department recently unveiled its Childhood Obesity Advocacy Manual in Washington, DC at the Thurgood Marshall Center, a compilation that offers solutions to the disparately high childhood obesity rates in the African American community.

The Advocacy Manual contains tools to assist NAACP units and grassroots groups in promoting healthy behavior among Black families and identifies best practices in the fight against childhood obesity. It also serves as an advocacy agenda aimed at changing policies and programs at the local, state, and federal levels.

“The NAACP is committed to sounding the alarm on childhood obesity,” said NAACP Director of Health Programs Shavon Arline. “Our manual is designed to provide our units with the tools they need to implement awareness, education, and advocacy opportunities in the Black community. With active units in every state throughout the United States, we believe we are well equipped to engage community and state leaders in this fight to save this and the next generation.”

In the United States, 31.8 percent of youth between two and nineteen years of age – or twenty-three million children – are obese or significantly overweight. African-American children are more likely to be poor, obese, and live in unsafe communities where there are few opportunities for physical activity, higher exposures to harmful environmental factors, fewer supermarkets, and limited access to healthy food options. Today, 38 percent of Latino children and 34.9 percent of African-American children are overweight or obese, compared with 30.7 percent of White children.

“It is no secret that if not eradicated, childhood obesity will be one of the many causes of premature deaths and chronic disease for our children,” stated NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous. “The NAACP treasures the lives of our children and will stand with communities to fight against any systemic or environmental barriers that inhibit one’s opportunity to live a healthy life.”