Igniting a Movement to Reverse Childhood Obesity

Work with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

The Challenge

Today’s families face a troubling future: research suggests that the current generation of children may be the first Americans ever to live shorter, sicker lives than their parents. Childhood obesity is a major culprit, with nearly one in three children either overweight or obese. Too many kids and families live in neighborhoods without access to healthy, affordable food, or safe places to be active.

Our Approach

In 2007, Burness helped the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) announce its $500 million commitment to reversing the national childhood obesity epidemic by 2015. Since then we have worked with RWJF to develop and execute a comprehensive communications strategy in support of that goal. We have released countless studies and reports that have consistently garnered significant media coverage in major national media outlets, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and Vox; we have shared these reports with policymakers at all levels of government; we have helped RWJF and its grantees testify before Congress; and we have worked to organize demand and support for key policy priorities by collaborating with national, state and local leaders in the childhood obesity prevention movement.

Results and Impact

Burness has supported the release of some of the most groundbreaking studies in the field regarding the quality of foods and beverages sold in school; food marketing to children; healthy food access; and the state of physical education and other opportunities for physical activity for our kids today. These studies have served as the building blocks for policy development throughout the nation, and have helped ignite a movement around childhood obesity prevention.

And we have been a major player in upping the volume and action around reversing this epidemic. Burness has supported events, webinars, message trainings, briefings and meetings that have helped educate and inform hundreds of people and dozens of organizations on the front lines of policy change about what’s working to get kids healthier. We are starting to see signs of progress throughout the nation. The national childhood obesity rate has leveled off, and a number of states and cities have reported declines in childhood obesity rates in recent years.