HPRC News & Events

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

HPRC to Evaluate Impact of the “Rethink Your Drink” Campaign

traffic-lightToday, Mayor Menino announced a partnership with Shaw’s & Star Market, Stop & Shop, and Dudley Square’s Tropical Foods to rollout the “Rethink Your Drink” Campaign. Through a color-coded labeling system, the 15-store effort aims to help raise awareness about the negative health impacts of consuming too many sugar-sweetened beverages. The Harvard Prevention Research Center (HPRC) and The Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC)  will evaluate whether the effort will change consumer behavior and result in healthier shopping habits.

See the announcement for more information and details about the campaign.




HPRC at APHA’s Annual Meeting & Expo

This year’s APHA meeting, “Think Global Act Local: Best Practices Around the World,” addresses current and emerging health science, policy, and practice issues in an effort to prevent disease and promote health.

Be sure to look for HPRC at the following presentations:

Monday, November 4th

12:30 PM – 1:30 PM
Food & Nutrition Student Research
BCEC: Exhibit Hall A/B1

Children’s dietary intake in afterschool programs: Impact of foods and beverages obtained outside of program-provided snacks.
– Erica L. Kenney, MPH


Tuesday, November 5th

10:30 AM- 12:00 PM
Modeling the cost effectiveness of childhood obesity interventions and policies: an evaluation of methods to evaluate four strategies in the United States
BCEC: 210A
Moderator: Steve Gortmaker

10:30 AM
Cost-effectiveness of a sugar-sweetened beverage excise tax in the United States
– Michael Long, ScD

10:50 AM
Cost-effectiveness of a state policy requiring minimum levels of moderate and vigorous physical activity during elementary school physical education classes
– Jessica L. Barrett, MPH

1:10 PM
Potential impact of eliminating the tax subsidy of food and beverage television advertising directed at children and adolescents on BMI, dalys and healthcare costs in the United States
– Kendrin Sonneville, RD, ScD

1:30 PM
Impact and cost-effectiveness of childcare center policy changes on BMI and healthcare costs in the United States
– Davene R. Wright, PhD


Wednesday, November 6th

8:30 AM- 10:00 AM
Chronic diseases management
BCEC: 159
Moderator: Dianne Young, MPH

8:30 AM – 8:45 AM
Sustainability of the Maine youth overweight collaborative improvements three years post-intervention
– Michele Polacsek, PhD, MHS


10:30 AM- 12:00 PM
Engaging States and Communities in Supporting Opportunities to Address Obesity: A View from CDC and Partners
BCEC: 209
Moderator: Barbara Polhamus

11:25 AM- 11:40 AM
Working with community partners in Boston to improve nutrition and physical activity policies and environments
– The Harvard School of Public Health Prevention Research Center


10:30 AM – 12:00 PM
School Food Programs and Policies
BCEC: 210A
Moderator: Punam Ohri-Vachaspati

10:50AM – 11:10 AM
Improving nutrition and physical activity policies in afterschool programs: Results from a group-randomized controlled trial
– Erica L. Kenney


12:30PM-2:00 PM
A sugar sweetened beverage excise tax health impact assessment (HIA) for Maine
BCEC: 259B
– Michele Polacsek

EVENT: HPRC Community Partners Meeting

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

Highlights from the meeting will be shared on Twitter via @HarvardPRC. Join in on the conversation with #technobesity.


Featured Keynote Speakers:

Screen Proliferation and the Childhood Obesity Epidemic: Connections, Projections, and Solutions Ahead

Dr. Michael Rich, M.D., M.P.H.
Director of the Center on Media and Child Health, Boston Children’s Hospital; Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical at School; Associate Professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard School of Public Health

Selling Junk Food to Kids in the Digital Age

Cara Wilking, J.D.
Senior Staff Attorney at Public Health Advocacy Institute

Concurrent Workshops

  • How to control technology
  • Technology for obesity research
  • Social media and social marketing

*Registration and a light breakfast will begin at 8:00 am. Lunch will be provided during the concurrent workshops.

*Parking will be available at 252 Albany Street Parking Lot at no charge.

Print Invitation

Questions? Please contact:
Jenny Reiner

Spotlight on WATER

The recent launch of First Lady Michelle Obama’s and Partnership for a Healthier America’s “Drink Up” campaign has made H2O a focus of national conversation.

Water access and consumption is one of HPRC’s five identified key targets for girl_drinking_fountain_000001809540xsmall-1obesity prevention. From the national down to the local level,  we have plenty of resources to contribute to the discussion:

Out of School Time Nutrition and Physical Activity Initiative (OSNAP) Resources:

NOPREN Water Access Working Group
The Water Access working group focuses on policies and economic issues regarding free and safe water access.

Cradock AL, Wilking C, Olliges S, Gortmaker G. Getting Back on Tap: The Policy Context and Cost of Ensuring Access to Low-Cost Drinking Water in Massachusetts Schools. Am J Prev Med. 2012 Sep;43(3 Suppl 2):S95-101.

Giles CM, Kenney EL, Gortmaker SL, Lee RM, Thayer JC, Mont-Ferguson H, Cradock AL. Increasing Water Availability During Afterschool Snack: Evidence, Strategies, and Partnerships from a Group Randomized Trial. Am J Prev Med. 2012 Sep;43(3 Suppl 2):S136-42.

Kids may not offset extra exercise at school

(Reuters Health) – Children who exercise at school don’t make up for the extra effort by being less active at home, according to a new U.S. study that used accelerometers to track kids’ activity levels.

“What this argues for is we should be increasing activity in schools,” said Michael Long, the lead author of the new study and a post-doctoral research fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts.

Read the full article 

Dr. Michele Polacsek & MYOC featured by NCI’s “Research to Reality” online community!

The Maine Youth Overweight Collaborative’s (MYOC) toolkit, “Keep ME Heatlhy” has now been included in the National Cancer Institute’s online community “Research to Reality (R2R).”

Join in the discussion about Keep ME Healthy and redressing the childhood obesity pandemic with July’s featured R2R Partner Dr. Michele Polacsek.

VIDEO: Dr. Steven Gortmaker featured in NEJM roundtable discussion on “Health Promotion and the State”

“Some major U.S. public health problems are perpetuated and exacerbated at least in part by lifestyle choices and individual behavior. Policymakers at all levels of government are struggling to find ways of intervening to promote wellness and reduce unhealthy behaviors without overstepping the limits of their authority or infringing on personal liberties. What can and should government do to reduce obesity and tobacco use?”

Watch experts Thomas Farley, Steven Gortmaker, and Cass Sunstein address these and other questions about health promotion and the state in this video roundtable discussion