Maine receives critical obesity prevention funds

By Ramona du Houx

March 20th, 2010

Maine has received $4.28 million federal grant to address obesity issues. The federal Recovery Act funds come from the Communities Putting Prevention to Work grant, designed to support public health efforts to address obesity, physical activity and nutrition in order to decrease chronic disease and promote overall health.

“I am pleased that Maine is receiving this critical support for our aggressive efforts to address obesity, especially among our youth,” said Governor Baldacci. “These funds will enable us to support local partnerships designed to engage people in more physical activity and to improve nutrition.”

The grant funds efforts by Maine’s Center for Disease Control and Department of Health and Human Services, coordinated with the Healthy Maine Partnerships in the Cumberland Public Health District, to reduce the rate of obesity. The award was a result of a competitive grant process and supports positions at the local level to implement strategies over a two-year period. The local programs participating with the State are Healthy Portland, which serves the City of Portland, and Communities Promoting Health Coalition, serving the Sebago Lakes Region.

Maine has the highest rate of obesity in New England, with an estimated 30 percent of Maine youth being overweight or obese.

The Baldacci Administration, in conjunction with the First Lady, public health advocates, health providers, educators, Legislators and others have been working to build a foundation of public health collaboratives across the State and promote programs such as Take it Outside, WinterKids and others.

In addition, the Governor’s Universal Wellness initiative, which provides community-based support and services to help people be healthy, began this year.

The Governor said that the success of the grant hinged in large part on the existing success of Maine to establish a statewide public health system. He noted that in many areas, Maine has been implementing health care reform that is improving the quality of health care across the State.

“When I came into office in 2003 Maine ranked 19th in uninsured; today we are 6th best in the country,” said the Governor. “Through Dirigo Health Reform, we have been working to increase preventive care, encourage best practices and engage all stakeholders in the public health system. We established the State Health Plan to provide a roadmap for making Maine the healthiest state in the nation. We know we still have a long way to go, and that’s why these federal funds are important.”

For more information about the Communities Putting Prevention to Work, visit www.hhs.gov/recovery