HMSA awards grant to help JABSOM Pediatrics fight childhood obesity epidemic

The HMSA Foundation awarded $255,000 in grants to eight local health programs and community organizations in the second quarter of this year. One of those grants will support the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Hawaii’s John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) and its efforts to fight childhood obesity.

According to the American Heart Association, childhood obesity is the No. 1 health concern among parents in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say childhood obesity has tripled in the past 30 years. “This is a disease,” says Mark Forman, HMSA Foundation executive

administrator, “one that could lead to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and depression if left untreated.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture started phasing in school meal standards this month. When students return to school in August, school lunches will have both fruits and vegetables every day in larger portions, new calorie and sodium limits, and fat-free milk, regardless of the flavor. But healthier school meals are just one part of the solution.

“Hawaii’s unique multicultural and geographical character creates challenges to addressing obesity,” says Dr. May Okihiro, director of JABSOM’s Hawaii Initiative for Childhood Obesity Research and Education (HICORE). “Grants such as these help us to address the problem with innovative, multilevel, multidisciplinary approaches.”

The HMSA Foundation is a nonprofit, tax-exempt private charitable organization. It was founded in Hawaii in 1986 as a public foundation with the goal of stimulating research aimed at some of the pressing issues that confronted Hawaii’s health care industry. In 1997, the Foundation was converted to a private foundation to allow for larger contributions from donors, such as HMSA.

The mission of the HMSA Foundation is to extend HMSA’s commitment to provide community access to cost-effective health care services, promote health, provide health education and relevant research, and improve social welfare in Hawaii.

Foundation grants are funded with annual investment income earned on its original endowment. Health plan dues from HMSA members and employer groups are not used to fund Foundation grants. For more information on the HMSA Foundation, please visit

This story is kindly provided by HMSA.

The photo (by A. Kameda) is from the Hawaii 5210 event held last year (April 2011) at JABSOM. HMSA Foundation was one of 5 primary funders of the event, which awarded a check for $137,000 to JABSOM in support of Hawaii 5210 activities.


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