New Report Shows High Rates of Overweight & Obesity in Mass. School Children

A new report released yesterday by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health has some alarming results: in eight school districts across the state, more than 40% of students were overweight or obese.

The study was conducted by taking the body mass index, or BMI, of students in grades 1, 4, 7, and 10 in select school districts in the 2008-09 academic year. Children are considered overweight if their BMI is between the 85th and 95th percentile for their age and obese if  their BMI is equal to or greater than the 95th percentile.

The Boston Globe published a chart showing the breakdown by school district. They also reported that “the study, which reflects weight and height measurements for about 110,000 students, for the first time provides data on separate school districts and underscores the role of poverty and affluence in determining weight.” Arlington had the lowest rates of obesity and overweight while Lawrence had the worst; Boston came in 76th out of 80 districts. Eight of the 80 districts had rates of obesity and overweight greater than 40%. For a list of the best and worst ranked districts, see this illustration published in the Globe.

A unique aspect of the City Connects approach to student support is our emphasis on health and wellness. Children living in high-poverty neighborhoods suffer disproportionately from chronic illness and health risks in addition to obesity, which may negatively impact their academic success. With the longstanding support of the New Balance Foundation, City Connects has been able to include health as a core component of student support, paying particular attention to individual student’s health needs, partnering with community health services and programs, and promoting the healthy development of the entire school.

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Mass in Motion grants $85,000 to Boston & Brockton

Mass in MotionThe Mass in Motion campaign, sponsored by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), this week awarded $25,000 in wellness grants to Boston and $60,000 to Brockton to improve community health and reduce chronic disease.

DPH says the funding will support community efforts to initiate policy and environmental changes to support healthy eating and active living. Boston and Brockton plan to create or expand existing partnerships among local government, community leaders, faith-based organizations, councils on aging, health care providers, businesses, and others to lead this effort. These two Mass in Motion grants  in addition to the more than $1 million in grants distributed to 12 other communities last year.

“As we kick off the second year of the Mass in Motion campaign, I am thrilled that we are able to continue to help cities and towns make an investment in creating healthier communities,” said Governor Deval Patrick. “We look forward to supporting Boston and Brockton as they bring Mass in Motion to life by successfully and creatively helping city residents make healthy choices and build a stronger Commonwealth.”