HPRC News & Events

HPRC study demonstrates sustainable approach to addressing overweight risk among children

Primary care is an opportune setting to contribute to obesity prevention and treatment. However, there is limited evidence for effective and sustainable interventions in primary care. The Maine Youth Overweight Collaborative (MYOC) successfully affected office systems, provider behavior, and patient experience, back in 2009.

This follow-up study by HPRC’s Dr. Steven Gortmaker and Dr. Michele Polacsek found myoc sustainable improvements in clinical decision support and family management of risk behaviors within a primary-care-based approach to addressing overweight risk among children and youth.

Polacsek M, Orr J, O’Brien LM, Rogers VW, Fanburg J, Gortmaker SL. Sustainability of key maine youth overweight collaborative improvements: a follow-up study. Child Obes. 2014 Aug;10(4):326-33.

Creating Healthy Spaces for Kids in Boston

OSNAP Banner

Interested in making your child’s after school environment healthier? See how your after-school program can sign up for OSNAP.

OSNAP works with after-school and summer programs to establish and expand healthy food, beverage physical activity and screen reduction time practices and policies. This support is provided through a series of three Learning Community training sessions. Participating programs apply what they learn in the training, work with OSNAP staff throughout the school year and network with other OST programs on successful strategies being used in Boston through the Learning Community. Additionally, they receive skill-based training on examining their own nutrition and physical activity environments, practices and policies, as well as free evidence-based curriculum and resources to support making healthy changes during their programs.

Getting Kids Excited About Food


Check out Dr. Steve Gortmaker’s Food Revolution Day guest blog on the importance of getting kids excited about healthy eating and living, and the work the HPRC is doing to create tools for change:

Getting kids excited about food and nutrition is going to be crucial to the success of a food revolution. Kids need to be interested in and excited about ways to get healthy if they’re going to maintain those habits in the long term, and they need the environments in which they spend their time to support healthier eating and more exercise.

The home is a key environment for teaching healthy habits, but it is just one of the many spaces in which children spend their time. From preschools and schools to organized sports, after-school programs, and summer camps, healthy eating and physical activity must also be integrated into the places where children learn and play—but unfortunately, this isn’t always the case…continue reading on Food Revolution Day

2014 Leaders in Health Cohort


Congratulations to the 2014 cohort for their successful completion of the Leaders in Health Community Training Program!

Specific details about these participant’s individual projects will be posted soon.

Leaders in Health works to build the capacity of our community partners by providing participants with an introduction to the fundamentals of community-based participatory research (CBPR) and nutrition, physical activity, and obesity prevention among children and youth.

Helping Kids and Communities Be Healthy and Active

Playground handlebars

Across Massachusetts, communities are searching for ways to help residents live active and healthy lives.

The Massachusetts Joint Use Toolkit is a how-to guide for community members seeking to access public buildings and spaces afterhours so residents can exercise and engage in other recreational activities. This Toolkit helps communities maximize the use of schools, playgrounds, parks, libraries, and town halls, by offering children and their families a safe, familiar place to get fit. The Toolkit describes the process of sharing space from A to Z; it addresses location, funding, safety, and liability, and provides a Model Joint Use Agreement that communities can use to safely open unused spaces to the public.

More about the toolkit and joint use project.


WEBINAR: Active Living Research featuring Dr. Angie Cradock

Achieving Change Across Sectors: Integrating Research, Policy, & Practice


Tuesday, February 11
1:00 pm ET

The January/February 2014 (Vol. 28, Issue sp3) supplemental issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion is devoted to Active Living Research. The issue highlights papers selected from abstracts submitted for presentation at Active Living Research’s tenth annual conference in February 2013. The theme of the 2013 annual conference was Achieving Change Across Sectors; Integrating Research, Policy and Practice.

This webinar will feature key findings from three papers and will be moderated by the Associate Editor of the supplement, Jay Maddock. There will be time for Q&A after each presentation and a brief wrap-up discussion.

Featured Articles and Presenters

  • Evaluating the Implementation and Active Living Impacts of a State Government Planning Policy Designed to Create Walkable Neighborhoods in Perth, Western Australia. (American Journal of Health Promotion: January/February 2014, Vol. 28, No. sp3, pp. S5-S18)
    • Paula Hooper, PhD, MSc, BSc, Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, RESIDE-II Research into Practice Project Coordinator
  • Taking Physical Activity to the Streets: The Popularity of Ciclovia and Open Streets Initiatives in the United States. (American Journal of Health Promotion: January/February 2014, Vol. 28, No. sp3, pp. S116-S118)
    • J. Aaron Hipp, PhD, Assistant Professor, Brown School | Washington University in St. Louis Investigator, Prevention Research Center in St. Louis
  • Impact of the Boston Active School Day Policy to Promote Physical Activity Among Children. (American Journal of Health Promotion: January/February 2014, Vol. 28, No. sp3, pp. S54-S64)
    • Angie Cradock, PhD, Senior Research Scientist, Harvard School of Public Health | Deputy Director, Harvard Prevention Research Center
    • Jill Carter, EdM, MA, Executive Director, Health and Wellness Department, Boston Public Schools

Seeking Applicants for Leaders in Health

Application due February 14, 2014

Leaders in Health community training program is currently seeking applications from community members who are striving to improve nutrition and physical activity in Boston and surrounding communities.

Now in its 4th year, the program’s goal is to build the capacity of our community partners by providing participants with an introduction to the fundamentals of community-based participatory research (CBPR) and nutrition, physical activity, and obesity prevention among children and youth. Individuals who are currently involved with a nutrition- or physical activity-related program or project (on either a work or volunteer basis) are eligible to apply. Participants will attend interactive training sessions, complete assignments, and receive support to create an action plan to enhance their current work.


“Impact of the Boston Active School Day Policy to Promote Physical Activity Among Children”

A study by HPRC’s Dr. Angie Cradock, Jessica Barrett, and Dr. Steven Gortmaker found that Active School Day implementation increased student moderate-to-vigorous physical activity levels and decreased sedentary time during school at modest cost.

The study took place in six elementary schools with three matched pairs and included 455 consenting fourth- and fifth-grade students in Boston, Massachusetts, from February to June 2011.

Technology and Childhood Obesity: The Good, the Bad, and the Possible

Community Partners Meeting Wrap-Up

Thank you to all who attended our Ninth Annual Community Partners Meeting and joined in the discussion on technology and childhood obesity. If you missed the meeting or any of the materials and handouts, they are linked in the below for download. You can also check out some highlights from the day’s events (tagged with #technobesity) on our twitter account, @HarvardPRC.

Meeting Agenda

HPRC Fact Sheet
A brief description about our center and networks, as well as current projects, including:

  • OSNAP Overview – The current core project working with out of school time programs in Massachusetts to improve physical activity, nutrition and screen time related practices, policies and environments. Find more handouts on osnap.org.
  • LIH Overview - The Leaders in Health Community Training Program works to enhance community capacity to conduct health promotion and disease prevention. 

Physical Activity for Public Health at MIT
A summary of centers and researchers working on technology and obesity and physical activity at MIT, as well as the school’s student fitness policy.
-Constantine Psimopoulos, Assistant Director of Fitness, M.I.T.

Technology for Obesity Research
A look into some tools for physical activity and diet measurement.
-Jessica Barrett & Lizzie Barnett, HPRC

Social Media & Social Marketing in Public Health Programs
An interactive presentation with tips and links, as well as a handout with key questions to think about for your organization’s social media channels and social marketing campaigns.
-Nick Martin, BPHC & Brett Otis, HPRC