Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Somerville Named ‘Healthiest City In Massachusetts’

At its 90th Anniversary Gala on Tuesday, October 12th, the Massachusetts Health Council presented Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone and the City of Somerville with the “Healthiest City in Massachusetts” Award for its Shape Up Somerville program and its efforts in combating childhood obesity and promoting active living. Noted for its promotion of healthy eating, active living, prevention and wellness throughout the community, the City of Somerville was among seven honorees of the MHC during its 2010 event, which included the Worcester Public Schools and Greater Boston Food Bank.

“I am honored to receive this prestigious award from one of the top health institutions in the country, and proud that the efforts of the City of Somerville, Somerville Public Schools, Tufts University and our community partners has been recognized by our colleagues in the public health arena,” Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone said. “Through Shape Up Somerville, our community has instituted effective programs and policies designed to create a healthier community, and we are succeeding on many levels. While childhood obesity remains one of the most pressing health concerns of our generation, the work of the Massachusetts Health Council and its partners is helping to address that issue, and I thank the Board and Executive Director for recognizing our work at the local level.”

Introduced in 2003 by Dr. Christina Economos with the Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition, Shape Up Somerville began as a study of children in first through third grades, tracking the effects of changing children’s environments on weight gain over time. Instituting initial changes such as introducing fresh produce into school breakfast and lunch programs and increasing physical activity and nutrition curriculum during school hours, in addition to providing educational materials on nutrition to parents and teachers, children in the study gained, on average, one pound less per year than children in control communities.
Since the initial study, the City of Somerville has continued to make infrastructure changes to support and promote active living, including pedestrian safety infrastructure such as durable crosswalks and curb bump outs, slowing vehicle traffic on City streets by widening sidewalks and adding traffic calming tables, and by striping more than 10 miles of bike lanes throughout the City.

“Within our schools, students have access to fresh produce and healthier foods, and we continue to introduce new initiatives to support active living. At the base of Shape Up Somerville and our community’s fight against childhood obesity, we are all committed to providing a nurturing, supportive environment for our students to start them off on the right path to health and wellness, and I am proud that the work of the entire community on this issue has been recognized by the MHC,” said Superintendent of Schools, Tony Pierantozzi.

“This is a community-based approach to changing the way we think, the way we live, and the health and sustainability of our city’s future. This award from the MHC serves as another reminder of how important the work of our community partners has been, and how we must continue to work together, as a community and across the state and the nation, to reduce the prevalence of childhood obesity,” Mayor Curtatone said.

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