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About the Program

Key Program Efforts

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About ATCO

ATCO Contact

For more information
or to join the
Alaskans Taking on Childhood
Obesity Taskforce

contact:

Andrea Fenaughty, PhD.
CDPHP Epidemiologist
Alaska DHSS
Division of Public Health
(907) 269-8025

Alaskans Taking on Childhood Obesity (ATCO) Taskforce


Scope of the Problem

Obesity has become a major health problem for Alaskans and Americans. About a third of the adult population is now obese and an additional one-third is overweight. Obesity is expensive. It is estimated medical complications of obesity cost Alaska’s economy $477 million a year in direct medical expenditures[1]. Childhood obesity has reached epidemic proportions in Alaska. Estimates are between 27% and 40% of Alaska’s children are overweight or obese[2]. Nationally, rates of childhood overweight and obesity have tripled over the past four decades. This is significant because of the negative impact obesity has on the physical, social, and emotional health of children, not to mention academic performance. Obese children are at increased risk of a number of chronic conditions including Type II diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, asthma, and certain forms of cancer[3]. It has even been predicted that, due to obesity, today’s children may be the first generation to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents’ generation[4].


Over the past decade, various programs within Alaska—both within and outside of state government—have attempted to address childhood obesity. While there have been notable successes from these efforts[5], Alaska’s children are currently nearly double the Healthy Alaskans 2010[6] goal for childhood overweight and obesity. A true reverse of this trend seems nowhere in sight. Clearly, our collective efforts on this front have been inadequate.


The likely reasons for this are many, not the least of which is the incredibly complex array of factors that have likely lead to the obesity epidemic in the first place. Because of this complexity, the solution demanded will not come from a silver bullet approach, but rather one that addresses the problem in a comprehensive, coordinated fashion.

Little boy on bike wearing a helmet and a smile