Somerville, MA…With obesity levels in the United States at all-time highs, Somerville healthcare leaders are working together to make local improvements through "Collaborate for Healthy Weight," a national effort to reverse the epidemic through innovative local partnerships between primary care providers, public health professionals, and leaders of community-based organizations. Somerville is one of 50 locations across the country participating in this groundbreaking program that will bring solutions to the local community and share strategies on a broader scale. The effort is being led by the National Initiative for Children’s Healthcare Quality (NICHQ), in partnership with the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).
The U.S. has the highest rate of obesity among all developed nations. At current rates, three in four Americans will become overweight or obese by 2020. "Obesity constitutes a grave threat to the health and well-being of our nation, with a particularly strong impact on diverse and disadvantaged communities," said Charles Homer, MD, MPH, president and CEO of NICHQ, a Boston-based non-profit dedicated to improving the care systems responsible for the health of all children. "We are thrilled to have the opportunity to work with 50 pioneering communities across the country to find breakthrough solutions to this serious public health problem."
"We are delighted that NICHQ has selected our team from Somerville to participate in this initiative based on our shared commitment to achieving healthy weight and health equity for residents in our community,” said team leader Lisa Brukilacchio, Director of the Somerville Community Health Agenda at Cambridge Health Alliance. “We look forward to building on local collaborative work such as Shape Up Somerville and sharing learning opportunities with communities in other regions."
Along with representatives from Cambridge Health Alliance's Broadway and Union Square Health Centers and its Community Affairs Department, the cross-sectoral team includes representatives from:
* City of Somerville Health Department
* Community Action Agency of Somerville/Head Start
* Early Childhood Advisory Council
* Cambridge/Somerville WIC
* Institute for Community Health
The team will specifically target its efforts to the 200 Somerville children enrolled in Head Start and their families, where rates of overweight or obesity average 46%, with Latino children at 55%.
The 50 teams from across the country participating in the Collaborate for Healthy Weight initiative will learn from national experts, exchange ideas, and created plans for becoming best practice models for other communities to follow. The project will run through February 2013. To see a complete list of participating locations, go to: www.collaborateforhealthyweight.org/About/Collaborative/Meet-the-HWC-Teams.aspx.
“We are so proud of these communities that are laying the groundwork for tackling this complex and serious issue,” Dr. Homer added. “As their work gets underway, these efforts will make a huge difference in the lives of children and their families across the nation.”
“Collaborate for Healthy Weight” is a two-phased project supported through the Prevention and Public Health Fund under the Affordable Care Act and made possible by a cooperative agreement from HRSA. NICHQ is leading a coalition of partner organizations that is managing all program logistics and overseeing the work of participating teams.
For more information about this initiative, visit www.collaborateforhealthyweight.org or www.NICHQ.org.
Cambridge Health Alliance is an integrated, award-winning health system that provides high quality care in Cambridge, Somerville, and Boston’s metro-north communities. It includes three hospital campuses, a network of primary care and specialty practices, and the Cambridge Public Health Dept. CHA is a Harvard Medical School teaching affiliate and is also affiliated with Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, and Tufts University School of Medicine. Visit us online at www.challiance.org.