Category Archives: Community

STUDY: Boston’s executive beverage policy decreased sugary drinks and increased availability of healthier drinks in city-owned properties.

A study by the HPRC, working with the Boston Public Health Commission, evaluated the impact of the Healthy Beverage Executive Order for city agencies in Boston and found that the policy decreased the availability of sugary drinks, and that healthier, low-sugar beverages were more likely to be available for sale.

HBEO Evaluation Graphic_v3

In 2011, Boston’s former mayor, Thomas M. Menino, issued the Healthy Beverages Executive Order (HBEO), directing city departments to eliminate the sale of SSBs from city-funded events, vending machines, and from cafés or cafeterias on city property. The HBEO standards (developed by the Boston Public Health Commission) identified categories of beverages, which were visualized on point-of-decision consumer education materials through a “traffic-light” system (i.e. red designates “drink rarely, if at all,” yellow designates “drink occasionally,” and green designates “drink plenty” or “healthy choice”). HPRC researchers collected baseline data on price, brand, and size of beverages for sale at the time the HBEO was issued.

HBEO stoplight posterTwo years later, the HPRC set out to evaluate whether access to healthy beverages had increased in Boston city agencies. Across 22 properties with 31 beverage access points (including vending machines, cafés, and cafeterias) the average calories per beverage sold decreased by almost 50 kcal, and the average sugar content decreased by 13 grams from baseline to follow-up. Researchers also found that the average proportion of high-sugar (“red”) beverages available per access point declined by nearly 30 percent, and city agencies were significantly more likely to sell only low-sugar beverages. There was no change in beverage prices.

“Health promotion strategies like the HBEO can make healthier beverage choices more accessible for Boston’s employees and residents,” said lead author Dr. Angie Cradock, co-director of the HPRC at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “We know this because after the policy was issued, healthier beverage options increased significantly in vending machines, cafeterias, and cafés on city properties. It’s exciting to see a city that really makes an effort to support the health of its residents.”

Boston joins a growing number of communities in promoting healthful vending initiatives to positively impact access to healthy options in community settings.

Cradock AL, Kenney EL, McHugh A, Conley L, Mozaffarian RS, Reiner JF, et al. Evaluating the Impact of the Healthy Beverage Executive Order for City Agencies in Boston, Massachusetts, 2011–2013. Prev Chronic Dis 2015;12:140549.

OSNAP Launches New Interactive Online Learning Community

The OSNAP Online Learning Community brings together afterschool staff to work through the process of making practice, policy, and environmental changes in their programs.osnap online learning community

Join afterschool and out-of-school time programs from across the country to improve children’s physical activity, nutrition, and screen time habits in your program!

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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.


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.