Project Description

boston_mapThe Boston Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health: Obesity and Hypertension Demonstration Project (REACH), a 3 year CDC-funded initiative of the Boston Public Health Commission, aims to develop and implement replicable and scalable strategies that assure population-wide policy, systems, and environmental improvements to reduce obesity and hypertension, and decrease health disparities.

While population-wide strategies may benefit all Boston residents, racial and ethnic groups experiencing health disparities often face unique barriers which may limit the benefit they gain. The purpose of the REACH project is to ensure implementation of strategies and targeted efforts that address and reduce barriers specific to populations experiencing health disparities, and to maximize the health benefits of population-wide improvements for all. The project will have a place-based focus on the five Boston neighborhoods with the highest proportion and largest numbers of Black and Latino residents—East Boston, Dorchester, Hyde Park, Roxbury, and Mattapan.

The Harvard School of Public Health boy_and_son_playing_basketballPrevention Research Center Team will evaluate the REACH strategies to expand the public health evidence-base and disseminate the results nationally. The Boston REACH project will serve as a model for communities across the country from which to create, implement, and sustain population-based improvements that result in improved health outcomes for all groups, regardless of racial or ethnic composition.

Strategies include:

  • expand the number, variety, and geographic distribution of healthy beverage policy, systems, and environmental changes in target neighborhoods and organizations;
  • expand the capacity of neighborhood coalitions and community organizations to support safe utilization of parks, green space, walking, and bicycling;
  • increase the number of out-of-school time programs that provide at least 30 minutes of daily physical activity and serve healthy foods and drinks during snack and; and
  • address hypertension via sodium reduction and clinical management in target neighborhoods.


girlwaterfountainPrincipal Investigator: Anne McHugh, Boston Public Health Commission
Key Faculty: Steven Gortmaker & Walter Willett
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Funding Dates:
For more information, contact Rebekka Lee.


The Harvard School of Public Health Prevention Research Center is a member of the Prevention Research Centers Program, supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cooperative agreement number 1-U48-DP-001946.