Shape Up Somerville: A successful, comprehensive program to reduce childhood obesity

Somerville, MA's program to reduce childhood obesity through a comprehensive look at the city's food, transportation, parks, recreational trails, and trip to school, has made a real difference in children's health.

This is the type of program that cities across Missouri should be looking at--building better communities while also improving the community's health.

The PBS report on Somerville's program hits many of the highlights:

Seventeen percent of American kids are obese. Not a little chubby, but actually obese. Doctors define obesity in children as being in the 95th percentile or above the recommended Body Mass Index rate for their age.

Beyond the physical problems, there’s a strain on the health care system. Childhood obesity costs $3 billion a year. And many American cities are also unhealthy by design: The infrastructure we’ve built keeps us in our cars longer and discourages us from walking or biking.

But that is starting to change in places like Somerville, Massachusetts, where an innovative anti-obesity program is making real progress. In cooperation with our colleagues at Blueprint America, medical correspondent Dr. Emily Senay traveled to Somerville, just outside Boston, to see how the program works.


Watch the full episode. See more Need To Know.

The community's prescription includes many of the items on MoBikeFed's Vision for Bicycling and Walking in Missouri, including improving the city's transportation infrastructure to better accommodate bicycling and walking, building more bicycling and walking paths, teaching children and adults bicycling and walking skills and safety, and building bicycling and walking into the daily routine through programs like Safe Routes to School and walking school buses.