Pilot programs to fight childhood obesity will be launched in New Bedford and Fitchburg, thanks to a $1.7 million federal grant awarded to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. The Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) is a partner in the effort, as is Harvard Medical School’s Department of Population Medicine and the National Initiative for Children’s Healthcare Quality.
The project will build on a variety of anti-obesity activities already underway in Massachusetts communities as part of the state’s Mass in Motion wellness initiative. With the new funding, the state will pilot a number of obesity prevention efforts in primary health care settings, child care programs, and schools and after-school programs. Programs like HSPH’s Planet Health may be used to bring lessons on exercise and nutrition into classrooms. The project also includes a social marketing campaign about the importance of healthy eating and exercise.
“This is a unique opportunity to work with community partners in improving nutrition and physical activity of the youth in New Bedford and Fitchburg,” said Steven Gortmaker, director of the HSPH Prevention Research Center on Nutrition and Physical Activity and professor of the practice of health sociology, in a press release from the Massachusetts Department of Health and Human Services. “We are looking forward to this collaborative effort with MDPH.”