Dr. Howell Wechsler is the new chief executive office of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, which works alongside schools, out-of-school programs, businesses and doctor’s offices to create healthier environments for kids. A veteran of the public health community, Wechsler spent 18 years at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) before taking on his new gig.
What inspired you to start working on childhood obesity?
After graduate school, I had the privilege of directing a community-based heart health promotion in the Washington Heights-Inwood neighborhood of New York City. I came to understand the powerful impact that physical inactivity and poor dietary habits had on the health of the children in the community. Later on, during my 18 years at the CDC, I came to understand the impact that childhood obesity also has on academic achievement, economic competitiveness and national security.
How are you helping to reverse childhood obesity?
By leading the Alliance for a Healthier Generation to achieve its mission of working with schools, companies, community organizations, healthcare professionals and families to transform the conditions and systems that lead to healthier children.
What’s your biggest accomplishment so far in helping reduce childhood obesity?
The CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health, which I led from 2004 until May of this year, has provided critical data and science-based guidance that has helped many schools improve their nutrition environment and physical activity programs.
Who is your role model in your work?
Dr. David Satcher, former CDC director and U.S. Surgeon General, has long been a great role model for me. I greatly admire his calmness and wisdom, his integrity and humility, his dedication to public service and good science, his commitment to social justice and eliminating health disparities, and his understanding of the profound links between health and education.
What game or sport did you play growing up?
Growing up in The Bronx, I played basketball, touch football, punchball, stickball, and all the great New York street games. In fact, I’m featured as one of the interviewees in a terrific documentary film called New York Street Games.
Want to take part in a Gimme Five? Contact PreventObesity.net’s Zach Brooks.
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Leaders are people who are actively working - either professionally or as volunteers - to change policies and environments to help children eat better and be more active. We use the following criteria to evaluate whether to approve an applicant for Leader status with the Voices for Healthy Kids Action Center.
Do you meet the criteria below? If so, register as a Leader here. There is no cost to be a Leader.
At least one item must be checked within each of the following two categories:
1. Applicant is focused on changing policies and environments
They are working on one of Voices for Healthy Kid's six issue areas:
Ensure foods and beverages in schools meet dietary guidelines
Expand community access to high quality food
Expand physical activity programs in and out of school
Improve built environment in communities to increase physical activity
Use pricing strategies to promote purchase of healthier foods
Use regulation/policy to reduce youth exposure to unhealthy food marketing
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Public Health Agencies
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2. Applicant is organizing others or contributing to organizing efforts
They are organizing others by:
Providing volunteer opportunities
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Federal or state agency
Mayor or other local executive office
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Federal, state, county or transportation department
Federal, state or local education agency or school board
If the applicant claims to work for an organization, at least one item must be checked below:
3. Applicant works for an organization:
Has an email address that matches the domain of the organization they list
Is listed on the organization website as staff
The Voices for Healthy Kids Action Center is looking for bloggers who can write about issues that matter to our community on a regular basis. If you would like to be considered for this network, please check this box.