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Pritzker gift to fund possible solutions for child obesity including testing YMCA programs

To address the national and global epidemic of childhood obesity, Harvard College alumna Penny Pritzker '81 and her husband, Bryan Traubert, have pledged $5 million to Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) to fund the nationwide application of a childhood exercise and nutrition program that has been piloted by HSPH and the YMCA.

Additionally, the gift will underpin a scholarship fund for HSPH students pursuing obesity-related studies in several disciplines and will also establish an endowment to support a new permanent junior professorship at HSPH in obesity-related research.

The three-pronged effort, to be called The Donald and Sue Pritzker Nutrition and Fitness Initiative, will be directed by HSPH faculty members Steven Gortmaker, Professor of the Practice of Health Sociology in the Department of Society, Human Development and Health, and Frank Hu, Associate Professor in the Departments of Nutrition and Epidemiology. The initiative is named in honor of Ms. Pritzker's parents.

The gift from Pritzker and Traubert, who is a member of HSPH's Visiting Committee, will emphasize an effort to address childhood obesity in urban poor and minority communities. A portion will be used to fund an innovative research project being conducted with the nation's YMCAs to determine if an after-school program based on HSPH's Planet Health curriculum yields significant, measurable improvements in diet, physical activity, and reduced obesity for children.

Childhood obesity is a dramatic public health problem that will require a society-wide solution. More than 16 percent of children in the U.S. are overweight. Overweight children are more likely to become obese as adults. Because they are overweight, children and teens carry risk factors for America's most de
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Contact: Robin Herman
rherman@hsph.harvard.edu
617-432-6052
Harvard School of Public Health
3-Feb-2006


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