Childhood Obesity Prevention Initiative

Since 2020, we have directed our efforts to address childhood obesity rates in Southern Arizona. By collaborating with community and academic partners, we have successfully assessed factors associated with obesity risk and continue to develop novel strategies to address these contributors. Our goal is to minimize the burden of obesity-related health outcomes through systems-level prevention efforts that target and reduce health disparities.

Our Programs & Partners

  • Wilcat Marathoners: A running and walking club at Title One elementary schools in Tucson, AZ that encourages students to be physical active during recess
  • HPS 497-L (Public Health for School and Community Based Childhood Obesity Prevention Programming): Undergraduate students in HPS 497-L and graduate student interns deliver the Healthy Schools Tucson program to middle school students at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic School. 
  • Catalyzing Communities to Prevent Childhood Obesity: A multi-sectoral working group including Tufts University, Boston College, the Activate Tucson coalition, Tucson Child Health Working Group (TCHWG), and other obesity prevention coalitions in Tucson, AZ.

Leadership & Tucson Child Health Working Group (TCHWG)

Childhood obesity prevention initiative partners

Engaged leaders and partnerships across sectors have been vital to the coalition's success. Leadership includes Dr. Cyndi Thomson (ZFCPHP Director), Dr. Jennifer Bea (MEZCOPH), Sabrina Plattner (MEZCOPH), & Annemarie Medina (University of Arizona Health Sciences & Activate Tucson). The TCHWG includes the following community and academic partners: Activate Tucson, Pima County Health Department’s Healthy Pima and WIC programs, Child Parent Centers' Head Start Health Services Advisory Committee, Arizona Department of Transportation, Grow 2B Fit, AZ Health Zone SNAP-ED, UArizona Cooperative Extension’s Garden Kitchen and Nutritional Sciences Department, The Boys and Girls Clubs of Southern Arizona, El Rio Community Health Center, The Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, Tucson Unified School District, & the Beyond Foundation.

Through the practice of group model building, the TCHWG developed a causal loop diagram, a visual that depicts the relationship between variables (i.e., factors that increase obesity risk) in a system. One of the key insights uncovered by the TCHWG was the impact of insufficient funding for school extracurricular activities that promote health, meaning students that attend schools with scarce extracurricular funding may experience additional barriers to wellness. We are currently taking steps to leverage the Arizona State School Tax Policy, a previously underutilized mechanism that directs tax credits to school extracurricular programs.

For more information, please contact Sabrina Plattner, Health Educator, Sr. (