The $4,000 federal grant that will fund the state of Delaware’s new "Collaborate for a Healthy Weight" initiative may not be much in the grand scheme of things. But the money will go toward preventing several health problems that will save so much more money, state officials said.


The $4,000 federal grant that will fund the state of Delaware’s new "Collaborate for a Healthy Weight" initiative may not be much in the grand scheme of things.

But the money will go toward preventing obesity and the myriad of health problems that it causes, state and federal officials said Friday afternoon. That will save so much more money in the long run, officials said during a press conference held at Westside Family Healthcare in Dover.

The announcement of the grant came on the second anniversary of the federal Affordable Care Act.

“This is something we’ve got to get our arms around while we still can,” U.S. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) said.

He pointed to Japan as a shining example. As a captain in the U.S. Navy, Carper noticed how slim the Japanese were – a trait valued in their culture. As it turns out, Japan spends 8 percent of its gross domestic product on health care costs while America spends 16 percent of its GDP in comparison.

"Collaborate for a Healthy Weight" is a national effort that aims to reverse the obesity epidemic through local partnerships between primary care doctors and nurses, public health professionals and community-based organizations, officials said.

Delaware Secretary of Health & Social Services Rita Landgraf quoted Gov. Jack Markell in summing up what the initiative means for Delawareans.

“‘Delaware must move from a sick care system to a health care system,’”Landgraf said. “’We must grow innovative partnerships and focus on keeping great efforts on prevention. That work will lead to a higher quality of life for Delawareans.'”

While $4,000 may not be a lot, the state is also getting technical expertise from the federal government and the National Initiative for Children’s Healthcare Quality (NICHQ), Delaware Division of Public Health Director Dr. Karyl Rattay said. NICHQ is leading the broader, national effort to eliminate obesity.

“They have a tremendous amount of expertise and so much of the groundwork has been done for us,” Rattay said. “Now, we can develop our Delaware plan … with so much less effort.”

Delaware has received about $20 million in all from the Affordable Care Act, U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services Regional Director Joanne Gross said at the press conference.

She was the last of six speakers that included Westside Family Healthcare Chief Finance and Operating Officer Dr. Tom Stephens and Christiana Care Department of Family & Community Medicine Chairman Dr. Michael Rosenthal.