The Las Abuelas del Parque seniors exercise group in Cypress Park. UCLA has won a $20 million federal grant to promote healthy diet and exercise in minority neighborhoods across the country. Photo credit: Ashley Myers-Turner/KPCC
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has awarded UCLA a $20 million grant to battle obesity in minority neighborhoods. The aim is to make it easier for people to drop sedentary habits and poor diets and embrace healthy living.
The UCLA project moves away from requiring busy, stressed individuals in low-resource neighborhoods to seek out physical activity and nutrient-rich foods. Instead, it aims to engage them as "captive" audiences in settings they already frequent — including schools, offices and churches — making healthier options a default that can only be avoided with effort or by "opting out."
The central idea in the newly funded UCLA obesity project is called “Instant Recess”. It was developed 14 years ago by UCLA professor of health policy and management Dr. Antronette Yancey to bring 10-minute dance and sports-themed exercise breaks into the daily routine at work, in the classroom or even at Sunday church services.
The UCLA obesity project will also promote healthy eating by ensuring the availability of nutritional food at those same locations.
The project, run by the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, will employ a national network of community-based organizations to bring the project to African American, Asian American/Pacific Islander, Latino and American Indian populations in at least 30 medium-to-large cities nationwide.
The CDC’s five-year grant to UCLA is part of the agency's Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) initiative.