National Institutes of Health & National Council of Negro Women Launch Collaboration to Help Children Maintain a Healthy Weight

The National Institutes of Health and the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) joined forces today to train NCNW members in how to present two NIH education programs that help children maintain a healthy weight.

One out of every six American children ages two years to 19 years —an estimated 16.3 million—is overweight. The most recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (2003-2006), or NHANES, also shows that an additional 15.6 percent are at risk of becoming overweight. One of the communities at greatest risk is the African-American community: according to NHANES, one out of five non-Hispanic Black children is considered overweight and one out of three is at risk for overweight.

More than 30 NCNW cluster leaders—women who serve as the organization’s regional leaders—came from across the United States, including the Washington, D.C., metro area, to participate in the training.

Participants were trained in how to present two health education programs, as well as in how to teach others to present the programs. The programs emphasize improving food choices, increasing physical activity, and reducing screen time. Developed from NIH educational materials by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), the programs have been tailored to meet the needs of the NCNW cluster leaders.

“The NIH and NCNW are working together to make sure that children get the information they need to avoid overweight and its attendant risks,” said Yvonne T. Maddox, Ph.D., deputy director of the NICHD. “The NICHD has developed science-based health education programs tailored to meet NCNW’s needs, and NCNW members will deliver these programs to families who can benefit from them.”

Energize Our NCNW Families: Parent Program provides parents and caregivers practical, research-based information to help their families maintain a healthy weight, while Media-Smart Youth: The Essentials teaches young people ages 11 to 13 years how to analyze and understand media messages about nutrition and physical activity so that they can make healthy choices for themselves.

“One in five African-American children is overweight. This has longterm health implications for these children,” said Dorothy Height, Ph.D., chair and president emerita of the NCNW. “Now is the time to act. Today’s training enables our members to go back to their communities and not only deliver these programs but train others to deliver them to parents and young people to put them on the path to better health.”

These programs are adapted from curricula offered in the NIH’s We Can! (Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity and Nutrition) education program. We Can! is a highly adaptable, science-based program for families and communities to help children maintain a healthy weight. More than 900 community sites across the U.S., and in nine other countries, are providing We Can! activities in their communities.

Founded in 1935, the NCNW mission is to lead, develop, and advocate for women of African descent as they support their families and communities. NCNW fulfills this purpose through research, advocacy, and national and community-based services and programs on issues of health, education, and economic empowerment in the United States and Africa.


The NICHD sponsors research on development, before and after birth; maternal, child, and family health; reproductive biology and population issues; and medical rehabilitation. For more information, visit the Institute’s Web site at

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

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