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Center for Children’s Healthy Lifestyles & Nutrition

Weighing In sits within the Center for Children’s Healthy Lifestyles & Nutrition (CHLN), which serves as  leader in the local, regional, national and international movement to prevent and treat childhood obesity and to foster healthy lifestyles. The Center for Children’s Healthy Lifestyles & Nutrition’s primary goal is to contribution new knowledge regarding pediatric healthy lifestyles, ranging in scope from its biological origins to its societal impact. Current studies are exploring physiology, cognition, behavior, and nutrition as it relates to obesity as well as physical activity and diabetes management interventions. We also contribute to the development and analysis of public policy pertaining to pediatric obesity, community engagement, and leadership regarding education related to healthy lifestyles in children and families. We are committed to reaching all children in our area, especially those in underserved, ethnic minority, low-income communities.

The 2020 Kansas City Regional Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth (KCPA Report Card) is the first installment of a comprehensive evaluation of the state of physical activity of the population of the Kansas City metropolitan region, with an emphasis on the activity of children and youth. Weighing In, a program of Children’s Mercy, serves as the lead organization of the KCPA Report Card. The primary aim of this report is to document the regional rates of physical activity, sedentary behavior, and environmental and policy factors which affect physical activity of the population, and to establish an initial report which will be updated on a regular basis.

Adherence With Multiple National Healthy Lifestyle Recommendations in a Large Pediatric Center Electronic Health Record and Reduced Risk of Obesity

Children’s Mercy has incorporated the Fit-Tastic! Assessment and Plan components of the Healthy Lifestyles Initiative framework into primary care/well child checks for children ages 2 to 18 years old. The Weighing In and Children's Mercy team has recently completed an analysis of the data collected from the assessment to understand prevalence of achieving the 12345 Fit-Tastic! behaviors as well as the association of the 12345 Fit-Tastic! behaviors with child obesity.  A total of 24,255 children, whose parent/caregiver completed the assessment, were included in the analysis. This study is the first evaluation of its kind to examine multiple behaviors related to obesity, as assessed in an electronic health record, with a large data set. Check out Weighing In’s very own Dr. Robin Shook talking about the study in this video!

The results of the study showed that for all ages, prevalence of meeting recommendations for Fit-Tastic! behaviors was highest for physical activity (84%), followed by screen time (61%), consumption of water (51%), dairy (27%), and fruit/vegetables (10%).  Insufficient physical activity was the strongest predictor of obesity, followed by excess screen time. In particular, children whose parents reported less than 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per day were 1.65 times more likely to be obese

than those meeting the physical activity recommendation, emphasizing the importance of physical activity on obesity risk.

Evaluation of the Healthy Lifestyles Initiative for Improving Community Capacity for Childhood Obesity Prevention

Policy, systems, and environmental approaches are recommended for preventing childhood obesity. The objective of our study was to evaluate the Healthy Lifestyles Initiative (HLI), which aimed to strengthen community capacity for policy, systems, and environmental approaches to healthy eating and active living among children and families.

Eighty HLI partners completed a brief online survey on implementation strategies engaged in, materials used, and policy, systems, and environmental activities implemented.  Each implementation strategy was engaged in by 30% to 35% of the 80 survey respondents. The most frequently used materials were educational handouts (76.3%) and posters (66.3%). The most frequently implemented activities were developing or continuing partnerships (57.5%) and reviewing organizational wellness policies (46.3%). Completing an MAPPS for Change action plan and the number of implementation strategies engaged in were positively associated with implementation of targeted activities (action plan, effect size = 0.82; number of strategies, effect size = 0.51) and materials use (action plan, effect size = 0.59; number of strategies, effect size = 0.52). Materials use was positively associated with implementation of targeted activities (effect size = 0.35).

Systems mapping

Weighing In, through a contract with the Midwest Center for Nonprofit Leadership, produced a research-based regional systems map that reflects the variety of community agencies and service providers who play a role in prevention and treatment of childhood obesity.

This document: 

  • Conceptualizes the system of agencies that play a role in the issues associated with childhood obesity from prevention through treatment; 

  • Describes the roles and influence of the various program elements within the system; and 

  • Guides collaboration and planning functions to align our efforts for success.

The Systems Map

Childhood obesity metrics

While there is a wealth of data on population-based rates of adult obesity and risk factors, there is limited data available on children at the local level, making it difficult to tailor plans based on needs and track progress. Weighing In has contracted with the University of Missouri, which led a process to select measures and indicators, creating a comprehensive profile of childhood obesity for the greater Kansas City area. This profile enables community partners to identify priorities, focus plans and track progress. 

Executive Summary

Childhood Obesity Metrics Report

For more information about the full report, contact us at

Healthy lifestyles community council and community engagement

Collaboration has been a foundation to the success of the Healthy Lifestyles Initiative and other Weighing In efforts. The challenge is building a collaborative approach in helping Kansas City metro residents achieve a healthy weight and practice healthy behaviors. This is no small challenge, in view of the multi-faceted issues that impact what we eat, how active we are and how we access and benefit from health care.

Healthy Lifestyles community council

Weighing In, in partnership with other community partners participating in the Healthy Lifestyles Initiative, is supporting the creation of a council that will facilitate collaboration in these efforts. The goal is for a community-based council, governance structure, and a community engagement process to be in place by the end of 2015. This effort is being built to evolve as the community needs and issues evolve. If you would like to be involved with this effort, please contact us at