More than 140 civic leaders in government, business, health and other sectors from 14 communities and regions across the country gathered today at the YMCA Activate America: Pioneering Healthier Communities National Conference to brainstorm solutions to America’s rising health problems of physical inactivity and obesity.

Participating delegations included an array of local and state leaders nationwide including mayors, state senators, city councilman, state and local public health directors, business leaders from national insurance agencies, financial institutions and grocery store chains. Schools and hospitals were also part of the collaboration.

Initiatives developed at the conference are expected to vary depending on local needs and realities, but efforts may focus on school nutrition, engaging older adults in physical activity, community design and public policy. Representatives from each community team will put their initiatives into place and reconvene next year to share their results and solutions that can be used by other communities nationally.

The conference featured more than 30 experts from government, philanthropic and academic circles including U.S. Health and Human Services (HSS) Secretary Tommy Thompson, Iowa Senator Tom Harkin and Executive Director of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports Melissa Johnson.

The conference is part of the multi-year YMCA Activate America initiative to help build an infrastructure for replicating model programs and approaches in developing healthy communities nationwide based on advice and support from HHS, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.