Collaboration & Innovative Solutions
In 2006, Northridge Hospital Medical Center's Center for Healthier Communities launched the School Wellness Initiative, formerly known as the School-based Obesity and Diabetes Initiative (SODI), in partnership with the Los Angeles Unified School District Educational Service Center (ESC) North
This program aims to reduce the rate of obesity and related chronic diseases among public school students, their parents and teachers in the high need communities of the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles County.
Lack of nutritional foods in low-income communities, as well as physical inactivity and sedentary lifestyle are major culprits for this growing epidemic.
Results from the California State Fitnessgram indicate that nearly 41.6 percent of public school students in the 5th, 7th and 9th grades are overweight or obese
(UCLA Center for Health Policy Research). Moreover, 37% of adults are overweight and projections are that overtime 9 out of 10 men and 7 out of 10 women will become overweight.
Significant racial and ethnic disparities in obesity prevalence among children and adolescents in the US exist. Latino youth are more likely to be overweight than their white peers. More than 38 percent of Latino youth ages 2-19 in the US are overweight and nearly 21 percent are obese (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 2011).
To help combat this growing trend, our School Wellness Initiative helps students, parents and staff adopt healthy eating habits and increase their daily exercise regimen. Initially launched in 5 schools, it has expanded to 33 (29 elementary, 3 middle and 1 high schools) in underserved high need communities, with a focus on North Hills, Panorama City and Canoga Park.
Services and materials provided to schools include: physical education classes for elementary school students, physical education equipment, assistance with state-mandated Fitnessgram testing, increased structured physical activity for elementary age students, parent cooking classes, walking groups and educational workshops, on-site screenings and monitoring, teacher and staff fitness programs, and school-wide promotional campaigns encouraging healthy eating.
Working together with community collaborators, this project is a joint effort. Our collaborators include LAUSD District ESC North, LAUSD Coordinated School Health and Physical Education, Alzheimer’s Association, American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, California State University-Northridge, Enrichment Works, General Mills Foundation-Champions for Healthy Kids, Health Net, Marathon Kids, Tri-Valley YMCA, Network for a Healthy California, Northeast Valley Health Corporation, Partners in Care, Sustainable Economic Enterprises of Los Angeles, Valley Care Community Consortium, Vision y Compromiso and Local Elected Officials.
For more information about the School-Based Obesity and Diabetes Initiative, please contact the Center for Healthier Communities at