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  • May 02, 2017

Somerville Under 5 Obesity Prevention Pilot

David Osler, MD, a pediatrician at CHA Broadway Care Center (right) and Christina Economos, MD, Principal Investigator for the pilot project (left) discuss Somerville’s Shape Up Under 5 program

Shape Up Under 5 is a two-year pilot obesity prevention intervention in Somerville. It is uniting the work of early childhood stakeholders and experts from across the City, who make up the Shape Up Under 5 Committee. Shape Up Under 5’s mission is to promote healthy growth of all children in Somerville from birth through five years, with consistent messaging for caregivers and families, by organizations that support the wellbeing of young children.

Cambridge Health Alliance has a strong presence on the Committee, with participation including David Osler, MD, a pediatrician at CHA Broadway Care Center, Maria Bettencourt, director of WIC, Lisa Brukilacchio, director of the Somerville Community Health Agenda and Sarah Bansen of Somerville Women’s Health Center. “A primary outcome of the Committee’s work was the development of the Eat-Play-Sleep campaign, which promotes four evidence-based practices for children from birth to age five: eating well, playing together, sleeping more, and limiting screen time,” said Dr. Osler.

Shape Up Under 5 worked to ensure that the Eat-Play-Sleep campaign responds to the needs of children, families, and caregivers in Somerville. The campaign design was informed by existing health messaging efforts, peer-reviewed evidence and research, community input, and the priorities and leverage points identified by the Shape Up Under 5 Committee. All materials, including a poster and set of informational brochures, are translated into Spanish, Portuguese, and Haitian Creole and will soon be available electronically for CHA providers and the public here.

Dr. Christina Economos, the project's principal investigator, summed up the hopes of the Committee: “As witnessed by the success of the Shape Up Somerville intervention, obesity prevention calls for a community-wide effort. We are excited to be addressing this issue with dedicated leaders and stakeholders to reach the youngest population, recognizing that prevention is key to bringing all children to kindergarten at a healthy weight."

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