Healthy Living Matters

Healthy Living Matters (HLM), formerly known as the Houston/Harris County Childhood Obesity Prevention Collaborative, consists of a multi-sector group of local Houston leaders engaged in a two-year planning initiative to curb childhood obesity leveraging policy action to enact system and environmental change.

What factors are essential for effective cross-sector alignment?

Shared Purpose

  • The coalition conducted townhalls, surveys, key informant interviews, and policy scan to understand community needs and solutions; 15 priorities were initially selected.
  • Through improved coordination and replication of best practices, the collaborative is carrying out its mission to mobilize around a core set of priorities to reduce and prevent obesity and obesity-related diseases where children eat, play, and learn.


  • The organizational structure of HLM consists of a public-private partnership, consisting of more than 80 total collaborative members, including agency representatives and individuals.
  • Harris County Public Health and Environmental Services provided project oversight.
  • Their sector teams have specific focuses of early childhood or out-of-school action, health care action, youth, education, and infant nutrition and nurture engagement


  • HLM conducted locally-based assessments that explored Harris County’s food and built environments, school district and campus-level policies, and childcare facilities. 
  • The Community Action Plan and policy were created based on the data.
  • Data sharing is still a work in progress for the coalition.
  • The coalition shares outcome data with partner organizations at meetings; sometimes has a school of public health present large datasets to coalition.

Finance and Sustainability

  • Healthy Living Matters was created with funding from the Houston Endowment. The initial project planning phase ran from Nov. 2011 to Jan. 2014.
  • Harris County invested funds and staff because it’s been a successful coalition.
  • The coalition plans funding in 10-year increments.

Integration of Health Equity

  • No specific definition of health equity,
  • Make an active effort to engage different communities through making materials available in multiple languages 
  • Scans for social vulnerabilities in the built environment, looking for opportunities to work with communities based on their needs

Community Trust and Accountability

  • Shares outcome data at every collaborative meeting 
  • Aims to make new members see how their own work can contribute to the larger coalition’s goals
  • Holds community facing events to establish presence 
  • Designates staff to engage specific organizations like local school districts

Measures of Success

  • Designated by the city as a leader for certain efforts
  • Number of engaged members over time

Outcomes Achieved

  • “Major change in some communities,” particularly on policy change
  • Established county level programs for their community