Who We Are

Alexandria Childhood Obesity Action Network (A-COAN)

The Alexandria Childhood Obesity Action Network is working to address the growing obesity epidemic among children through policy and community change. We recognize that if families do not feel safe going to a neighborhood playground or cannot buy fresh foods at a nearby grocery store then it will be difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

WHAT ARE THE STATISTICS?  

According to the 2010 Center for Disease Control and Prevention's Pediatric Nutrition Surveillance System, 32% of Virginia's low-income children, ages 2-5, are overweight or obese.

For Virginia children, aged ten to seventeen, 29.8 percent are currently overweight or obese according to the 2011-2012 National Survey of Children's Health by CDC

In 2007, Inova Health System completed a comprehensive Healthy Weight Collaborative survey in Northern Virginia on obesity among parents and children, ages 2 – 18. According to survey findings:

  • 26.4% or approximately 100,000 children in Northern Virginia are either overweight or obese.
  • Among Alexandria children ages 2-5, 43.5% are overweight or obese. These numbers are significantly higher compared to other children in Alexandria (23.5% of children ages 6-10; 13.1% of children ages 11-14; 13.7% of children ages 15-18).
  • In Arlington, the next highest jurisdiction, only 28.6% of children, ages 2-5, are overweight or obese.
  • Alexandrian children who are Hispanic (32.9% overweight/obese) or with income below 200 percent of the federal poverty level (29.9% overweight/obese) are particularly at risk.

OUR KEY INITIATIVES 

  • Project Play - Ensuring that everyone has access to a quality playground!
  • Healthy Kids - Alexandria preschools, family day care providers, and playgroups are trying out some great programming: Color Me Healthy and Active Play!  These are sure to get Alexandria children eating more veggies and playing more.
  • Markets for Everyone - Working to pilot a SNAP/Double Dollar program at the Four Mile Run Farmers Market and Old Town Farmers' Markets that will allow residents to use their food stamps to purchase fresh food at the market.
  • Gardening in the Community - Collaborating with community partners to start gardens and provide gardening, cooking, and nutrition programming. This year we provided five gardening incentive grants to community and faith organizations.
  • Healthy Vending - We are working with an inter-agency task force to establish a healthy vending policy for the City of Alexandria.
  • Breastfeeding Promotion - Encouraging breastfeeding-friendly business practices and working with service providers to develop common messages for new and expecting mothers about breastfeeding.
  • Emergency Food System Assessment - Working to better understand how well our emergency food system works together in providing healthy food to Alexandria residents.
  • School Health (New!) - Just launched an exploratory task force to consider how to support and collaborate with the Alexandria schools to encourage healthy eating and active play among students.
  • Healthy Workplace Awards Program - An awards program to recognize businesses and community organizations who are establishing policies and programs to support the health of their employees.