Boston Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH): Obesity and Hypertension Demonstration Project

The Boston Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health: Obesity and Hypertension Demonstration Project (REACH), a 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.

Father and son playing basketballWhile 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 HPRC 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.

Principal Investigator: Anne McHugh (Boston Public Health Commission)
Key Faculty: Steven Gortmaker, PhD and Walter Willett, MD, MPH, DrPH (Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health)
Funder: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Funding Dates: 2012-2015
Contact Rebekka Lee

Last updated:  October 7, 2022