HHS Grants $3.6 Million for Obesity Prevention and Tobacco Control in South Seattle and South King County

Funding Awarded to Seattle Children’s Hospital, Public Health - Seattle & King County and Healthy King County Coalition to Focus on Nutrition, Physical Activity and Tobacco Prevention in Partnership with Youth, Families and Communities

Seattle Children’s Hospital, Public Health - Seattle & King County (PHSKC), and Healthy King County Coalition (HKCC) today announced the receipt of a two-year, $3.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The Community Transformation Grant (CTG) will fund Seattle Children’s Hospital and its partners to work collaboratively with youth, families and communities in South Seattle and South King County on obesity prevention and tobacco control, particularly among youth.

Administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the CTG program is a comprehensive community health improvement initiative launched in 2011 and funded through the Affordable Care Act’s Prevention and Public Health Fund. CTG funds support public health efforts to reduce chronic diseases, promote healthier lifestyles, reduce health disparities and control health care spending in small communities.

Children’s, PHSKC and HKCC will work with local governments, schools, hospitals, low-income housing groups, childcare and youth organizations to implement changes in communities that make healthy choices easier for children and families. Areas of focus include the cities of Auburn, Burien, Des Moines, Kent, North Highline, Renton, SeaTac and Tukwila, and the Seattle neighborhoods of Beacon Hill, Georgetown and South Park. This area has a combined population of more than 479,000.

The grant will assist communities, institutions, and organizations in preventing obesity and tobacco use in three areas:


  • Increase availability and promotion of healthful and locally produced food and drinks in schools, hospitals and other public institutions.
  • Reduce sugary drink consumption through community engagement, increased awareness and decreased availability of sugary drinks in organizations and institutions.

Physical Activity

  • Increase physical activity in schools, childcare and after-school programs.
  • Make communities pedestrian and bicycle-friendly through changes in land use and planning policies.
  • Improve access to public spaces for active recreation.


  • Create more smoke-free parks and public housing.

Overall, HHS awarded approximately $70 million in prevention grants to 40 awardees focused on improving the health of small communities across the nation. These new funds will support areas with fewer than 500,000 people in neighborhoods, school districts, villages, towns, cities and counties. Awardees represent organizations committed to improving health from a multitude of sectors.

This Seattle area grant is entitled “Transforming the Health of South King County: Working with small communities to reduce regional health inequities.” It is the third largest in the country given out in this round of the CTG. Grant leads include: Brian Saelens, PhD, health researcher at Seattle Children’s Hospital; Elizabeth Bennett, MPH, Director, Guest Services, Partnerships and Advocacy at Seattle Children’s Hospital; James Krieger, MD, MPH, Chief of Chronic Disease Prevention at Public Health - Seattle & King County; and Shelley Cooper-Ashford, Co-Chair of the Healthy King County Coalition.

King County Tobacco and Obesity Statistics

In 2010, King County students who reported smoking cigarettes in the past 30 days included 4 percent of 8th graders, 9 percent of 10th graders and 15 percent of 12th graders. This translates to at least 10,000 middle and high school cigarette smokers. Youth with the highest cigarette smoking rates are American Indian/Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander and Hispanic/Latino.

One in five youth in King County is overweight or obese. Rates are highest among males, youth of color and those in South King County. The prevalence of obesity puts children at greater risk of being obese as adults and developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes and other obesity-related illnesses. Adult obesity rates are 21 percent in King County and are estimated at 27 percent in the focus areas.


  • “South Seattle and South King County have a large and growing population of immigrant, ethnic and racial minority populations, are marked by health and social inequities and have burdens of chronic disease significantly higher than the rest of King County,” said Brian Saelens, PhD, health researcher and grant co-lead at Seattle Children’s Hospital. “At the same time, there is high interest and engagement from families, schools, cities, hospitals and others to work together to create sustainable, positive changes to support youth and families in being healthy. We expect our collaboration and work will reduce tobacco use and improve weight, nutrition and physical activity, especially among children and families, in these communities.”
  • “Parents and schools work hard to give children opportunities to thrive and now, thanks to the partnerships and funding made possible through this grant, families will have more tools to help their families stay healthy and reach their full potential,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine.
  • “The collective expertise and partnership of a major child health care organization (Seattle Children’s), a public health department (PHSKC), and a network of 30 organizations working to prevent chronic disease and eliminate health inequities (HKCC) together with the communities of South King County, brings together the complementary resources needed to make positive change,” said James Krieger, MD, MPH, grant co-lead and Chief of Chronic Disease Prevention at Public Health - Seattle & King County. “Together we can create healthier communities and encourage residents and organizations to become healthier.”
  • “We are thrilled to hear of HHS’s decision to award a Community Transformation Grant to our region”, said HKCC Co-Chair Nicole Sanders. “HKCC members have seen first-hand the results this sort of funding can make. This work helps us to move, it increases the nutritional options for both the old and young and helps people to breathe easier. This work allows all of us to live more fulfilled lives.”

About Public Health - Seattle & King County

Providing effective and innovative health and disease prevention services for over 1.9 million residents and visitors of King County, Public Health — Seattle & King County works for safer and healthier communities for everyone, every day.

About Healthy King County Coalition

This generation of children may be the first that doesn’t live longer than their parents. While, this is the current prediction, the Healthy King County Coalition believes it can be different. We understand children live and learn better without tobacco smoke and with healthy food and regular exercise. Since health is largely determined by the communities where we live, work, learn and play, the Healthy King County Coalition works to ensure community members of all ages have ready options and opportunities that make it easier to be healthy.

About Seattle Children’s

Seattle Children’s mission is to provide hope, care and cures to help every child live the healthiest and most fulfilling life possible. Together, Seattle Children’s Hospital, Research Institute and Foundation deliver superior patient care, identify new discoveries and treatments through pediatric research, and raise funds to create better futures for patients.

Ranked as one of the top children’s hospitals in the country by U.S. News & World Report, Seattle Children’s serves as the pediatric and adolescent academic medical center for Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho – the largest region of any children’s hospital in the country. As one of the nation’s top five pediatric research centers, Seattle Children’s Research Institute is internationally recognized for its work in neurosciences, immunology, cancer, infectious disease, injury prevention and much more. Seattle Children’s Hospital and Research Foundation works with the Seattle Children’s Guild Association, the largest all-volunteer fundraising network for any hospital in the country, to gather community support and raise funds for uncompensated care and research. Join Seattle Children’s bold initiative – It Starts With Yes: The Campaign for Seattle Children’s – to transform children’s health for generations to come.

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