Nationwide Childhood Obesity Challenge Winners Announced

By Tiffany Fox, (858) 246-0353,

San Diego, Calif., Oct. 1, 2012 — The American Journal of Preventive Medicine (AJPM) is pleased to announce FoodCorps as the winner of the first Childhood Obesity Challenge, an online competition for innovative ideas to combat the childhood obesity epidemic.

Childhood Obesity Challenge logo

FoodCorps uses a nationwide team of AmeriCorps service members embedded in public schools to directly teach healthy eating to children as well as work with local farmers, chefs and school food service to get nutritious food on school lunch trays.  As the winner of the competition, the project description — submitted by a team led by Jerusha Klemperer, one of 6 co-founders of FoodCorps — will be published in both the print and online versions of AJPM, in addition to receiving a $2,500 prize. 

“Choosing one winner out of the 107 submissions was not easy, but we feel FoodCorps exemplifies the innovation and potential for broad impact that we were looking for in this first Challenge,” said Kevin Patrick, AJPM Editor in Chief.

Second prize of the competition went to Caloric Calculator submitted by Claire Wang and colleagues at Columbia University. Tied for third prize were Designing HealthyCorridors, submitted by a team led by Amy Confair of Drexel University, and Healthy Eating Design Guidelines, submitted by Matthew Trowbridge and colleagues at the University of Virginia. Home Cooked Meals, submitted by Salman Rajput, a student at Dartmouth University, won the popular vote, which was open for public voting from Aug. 15 – Sept. 30, 2012. 

The UC San Diego division of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) partnered with AJPM to develop the online platform for the Challenge, and the editorial offices of AJPM are based at Calit2. 

Judges for the competition represent diverse areas of expertise, reflecting a Challenge goal of drawing new ideas from sectors outside of academia. They include Harvard Business School Senior Lecturer Jose Alvarez; New York City Health Commissioner Thomas Farley; Brookings Institution Senior Fellow and Director of the Center on Social Dynamics & Policy Ross Hammond; GPS Capital Partners principal and co-founder Lisa Richter; Global Policy Solutions CEO Maya Rockeymoore; UC San Diego School of Medicine Professor James Sallis; Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas Vice President and Chief Medical Officer Eduardo Sanchez and University of Minnesota School of Public Health Professor and Senior Associate Dean Mary Story.          

The AJPM Childhood Obesity Challenge is supported by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), which is working to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic in the United States by 2015. AJPM is working with the Foundation’s Pioneer Portfolio to complement those efforts by conducting the Childhood Obesity Challenge.

“We think the winning submissions met the Challenge in an extraordinary way,” said Elsie Taveras, Co-Director of the Obesity Prevention Program at Harvard Medical School’s Department of Population Medicine and co-editor of the Challenge. “The use of crowd-sourcing to garner innovative, grassroots ideas to reverse the obesity epidemic is a novel idea and will hopefully make these ideas part of the national discourse and bring us closer to diverse solutions via creative approaches.”

“The submissions reflected great diversity of ideas, which we need to address childhood obesity. Our first-round winners focus on things from directly working with and motivating and empowering youth to environmental changes that will make more healthy food and activity choices the easy and fun choices,” added co-editor Brian Saelens, Professor of Pediatrics at Seattle Children’s Research Institute and the University of Washington.

The Challenge will continue as a series of three additional competitions to be held through April 2013.  Future competitions will focus on specific aspects of combatting childhood obesity.

“At a time when academic publishing is seeing challenges to its business model, we applaud AJPM for its innovative use of competitions like this one,” said Paul Tarini, senior program officer at RWJF. “This effort, which helps surface ideas so that they reach the field at an earlier stage in their development, may produce a publishing model that extends the reach and relevance of the journal — without compromising the traditional peer-review process.”

The next competition will be open for submissions beginning Oct. 15, 2012.  Individuals and teams interested in participating in upcoming competitions are encouraged to consult the Challenge website at for more details.

About the American Journal of Preventive Medicine: The American Journal of Preventive Medicine is the official journal of the American College of Preventive Medicine and the Association for Prevention Teaching and Research. It publishes articles in the areas of prevention research, teaching, practice and policy. Original research is published on interventions aimed at the prevention of chronic and acute disease and the promotion of individual and community health. Of particular emphasis are papers that address the primary and secondary prevention of important clinical, behavioral and public health issues such as injury and violence, infectious disease, women's health, smoking, sedentary behaviors and physical activity, nutrition, diabetes, obesity, and alcohol and drug abuse. Papers also address educational initiatives aimed at improving the ability of health professionals to provide effective clinical prevention and public health services. Papers on health services research pertinent to prevention and public health are also published. The journal also publishes official policy statements from the two co-sponsoring organizations, review articles, media reviews, and editorials. Finally, the journal periodically publishes supplements and special theme issues devoted to areas of current interest to the prevention community.

About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful, and timely change. For 40 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime. Follow the Foundation on Twitter or Facebook,

Media Contacts

 Tiffany Fox, (858) 246-0353,

Related Links

 Childhood Obesity Challenge