"These results are more meaningful than the modest reduction in weight gain suggests," said Economos, who is also Vice Chair and Director of ChildObesity180, an organization that, in collaboration with the Friedman School, is committed to cross-sector partnerships that reverse childhood obesity. "The early years of elementary school are when we expect children to gain weight as they grow. What's driving the child obesity rate is pervasive unhealthy weight gain in children at a young age, particularly in low-income and often culturally diverse communities where access and availability of healthy food and physical activity options are limited."
After the first school year, the day-to-day responsibilities of Shape Up Somerville gradually transferred from Economos and the research staff to the community. "We were very encouraged to see the data show progress in the second school year when we started to step back and the community took the reins," Economos said. "The fact that Shape Up Somerville remains a vibrant city program that has expanded significantly over the last eight years attests to its sustainability."
"Reversing the child obesity rate requires widespread policy and environmental changes and involvement of just about everyone with a stake in the community; including children and families, schools, health professionals, business leaders, health insurers and policy makers," Economos continued. "Shape Up Somerville and its enduring presence are a reflection of their buy-in."
Following the researchers' blueprint, Shape Up Somerville has operated independently of Tufts University for several years. School breakfast and lunch menus continue to emphasize fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy and healthy snacks. Improvements to bike and walking paths and the development of physical activity spaces and recreation programming encourage community participation. Somerville now offers year-round farmer
|Contact: Andrea Grossman|
Tufts University, Health Sciences Campus