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FORWARD highlighted by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Thu February 19, 2015

The FORWARD initiative, a program of the DuPage County Health Department, is one of only 11 counties and cities nationwide to be highlighted for its obesity prevention accomplishments on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RJWF) website.

 In partnership with community leaders, the Health Department launched FORWARD in 2009. This initiative, now with over 1,000 community partners, has been the key driver of DuPage County's efforts to create healthier communities for children and families and has shown progress in lowering the rates of childhood obesity.

"It is a remarkable honor to be involved with a group of individuals like FORWARD who have changed the future of our community," said Karen Ayala, Executive Director of the Health Department. Among FORWARD's accomplishments:

·        Annually measures student body mass index (BMI) to help it track rates of overweight and obesity over time.

·        Spread the 5-4-3-2-1 Go!® recommendations to encourage children to get five servings of fruits and vegetables, four servings of water, three servings of low-fat dairy, two hours or less of screen time, and one hour or more of physical activity every day.

·        Launched "Rethink your Drink" in 2012 with the Illinois Alliance to Prevent Obesity (IAPO). Participating hospitals and businesses display signage to encourage people to choose healthier drinks, such as water.

·        Created a FORWARD Action Network (FAN) to support healthcare providers' efforts to address obesity. The FAN provides guidance to help providers address nutrition, physical activity, and obesity with pediatric patients. It also connects providers with local resources that encourage healthy eating and physical activity.

·        Awarded mini-grants totaling $42,000 in 2013 to 11 county organizations, including YMCAs, to purchase physical activity equipment, upgrade kitchen equipment, and  improve community gardens.

FORWARD (Fighting Obesity Reaching healthy Weight Among Residents of DuPage), a public-private partnership housed at the DuPage County Health Department, is a coalition of community partners dedicated to reversing the obesity trend by educating DuPage County on the importance of eating healthy and being physically active.  FORWARD supports policy, system, and environmental changes to make the healthy the choice the easy choice. For more information, visit

For more than 40 years, the RWJF has worked to improve the health and healthcare of Americans. It is the nation's largest philanthropy devoted to public health. See FORWARD's recognition at: