New Report Highlights Best Practices in Assessing and Treating Childhood Obesity


FOR MORE INFORMATION:  Joe Reblando, IMI, (202) 857-5722; Jeff Van Ness, ACAP, (202) 204-7515


WASHINGTON—Today, the Institute for Medicaid Innovation (IMI) released a report that highlights ways in which health plans serving the Medicaid population can address childhood obesity, one of the most common and significant health conditions in the U.S. The toolkit, which also assesses current prevention and treatment initiatives and offers practical advice to health plans seeking to improve their assessment and treatment of childhood obesity, arises from a collaboration between IMI, Medicaid Health Plans of America (MHPA) and the Association for Community Affiliated Plans (ACAP). The initiative, known as Childhood Obesity Prevention and Treatment (CHOPT) for Medicaid, is an effort funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).

While the long-term health and financial consequences of childhood obesity are well-known, the base of evidence to inform effective interventions for children is underdeveloped. The Medicaid managed care industry and other stakeholders sought to fill the gaps in knowledge through the CHOPT for Medicaid partnership by identifying Medicaid managed care organizations’ best practices that address childhood obesity. The project included the development of an implementation toolkit for health plans and convened stakeholders at a capstone event to encourage uptake and dissemination of the toolkit.

“It is critical to develop evidence-based programs that not only demonstrate effectiveness at preventing and treating obesity, but also consider the impact of social determinants of health for groups that are disproportionately impacted by health disparities, such as the Medicaid population,” said IMI Executive Director, Jennifer Moore, PhD, RN. “With the incredible support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and many national stakeholders, the Institute is leading efforts to address this important issue.”

“Childhood obesity often carries into adulthood, which increases risk for conditions including breast cancer, heart disease and diabetes,” noted ACAP CEO Meg Murray. “Preventing and treating childhood obesity is a substantial investment in our future.”

“The member plans of our organizations are well-positioned to develop programs that address the social determinants of health in their childhood obesity prevention and treatment programs,” said MHPA CEO Jeff Myers. “We’re proud to work with RWJF and ACAP to share their best practices so that others may develop their own initiatives.”

Among the report’s case studies:

  • An effort by Community Health Plan of Washington to implement a comprehensive program that incorporated family and community support and included components on nutrition, exercise, and video education to influence healthy choices;
  • Denver Health Plan launched a program that offers children and their families’ access to weight and comorbidity management services in a central location to prevent and treat pediatric obesity through evidence-based interventions;
  • A family fitness program led by Texas Children’s Health Plan used group sessions to provide children and parents or caregivers with education about physical activity, healthy snacks and drinks, goal setting, and appropriate screen time;
  • UnitedHealthcare Community & State’s implemented a program, in collaboration with the National 4-H Council, launched in eight states to improve eating habits, food budgeting and referring families to food security resources such as SNAP and WIC; and
  • UnitedHealth Group designed an initiative that offered extended health education and resources to children and parents or caregivers in a series of weekly group sessions in local community settings like recreational centers and Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs)

The report was disseminated at a meeting of the CHOPT program participants—including subject matter experts, health plans, and families who benefited from the plan interventions—in Washington. For more information, visit

About IMI
The Institute for Medicaid Innovation focuses on providing innovative solutions that address important clinical, research and policy issues in Medicaid through multi-stakeholder engagement, research, data analysis, education, quality improvement initiatives and dissemination and implementation activities. For more information, visit

About RWJF
For more than 40 years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve health and health care. We are working with others to build a national Culture of Health enabling everyone in America to live longer, healthier lives. For more information, visit

About ACAP
ACAP represents 57 nonprofit Safety Net Health Plans in 26 states, which collectively serve more than seventeen million people enrolled in Medicaid, Medicare, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and other health programs. For more information, visit

About MHPA
Medicaid Health Plans of America (MHPA) is the leading national trade association solely focused on representing the universe of Medicaid health plans. MHPA works on behalf of 123 commercial and nonprofit plans that serve over 20 million lives in 33 states and D.C. MHPA provides advocacy and research that support policy solutions to enhance the delivery of quality care to disadvantaged Americans. For more information, visit

# # #