Thursday, May 10, 2007

Curbing Child Obesity in One Town

In "As Child Obesity Surges, One Town Finds Way To Slim" in The Wall Street Journal explains one towns method of stopping child obesity. In hopes of curbing childhood obesity, Dr. Economos has developed a community-based obesity intervention in Somerville, Massachusetts.

Over the past five years, restaurants have switched to low fat milk and smaller portions; the school district has doubled the amount of fruit offered at lunch; and the town has repainted crosswalks, added bike trails and bike racks. At the schools, initially children opted not to purchase anything since the options were all healthy foods. Since the children were forced to go without a fatty or sugar-rich snack, more children began purchasing foods from the school cafeteria, which were all healthy options.

Instead of forcing children to go on a diet, the goal was to change their environment with small and inexpensive steps. During the 2003-2004 school year, Somerville children gained less weight then children in two nearby communities used as a control group, according to a report published in the medical journal Obesity.

When implementing change initiatives, think about ways to change the environment to support the behavior you're after and you'll build a stronger business with less effort.

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