The kids of Cambridge are making healthy choices, making the city among the best in the nation at preventing childhood obesity, according to a release from the Cambridge Public Health Department.
As part of the National League of Cities’ Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties Initiative—a subset of first lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Campaign — Cambridge has earned a “gold medal” ranking in each of the five goal areas. Among those are implementing better nutrition and physical activity practices into early child care and education programs; improving access to healthy and affordable foods at municipally- or county-owned venues; and having local officials launch policies to increase access to playspaces.
Cambridge was amoing 74 communities nationwide, including two others in Massachusetts, Somerville and New Bedford, to earn “gold medals” across the board from the Cities, Towns and Counties Initiative.
“Reducing childhood obesity has been a longstanding public health priority in Cambridge, but first lady Michelle Obama brought a national sense of urgency to the issue,” Cambridge City Manager Richard C. Rossi said in a statement. “She inspired us to pursue environmental and policy strategies that extended beyond our public schools and parks.”
In 2015, 31 percent of Cambridge public school students from kindergarten to eighth grade were overweight or obese, down from 39 percent in 2004, according to data collected by the school department.
Cambridge joined the Let’s Move! campaign in 2011, but has focused on promoting healthy weight for decades. A team of public health professionals, civic leaders, city staff, parent activists, and the Cambridge Public Schools began initiating healthy policies in the 1990s. Together, they incorporated healthier lunches using locally grown foods to school cafeterias, school gardens at elementary schools, and model school nutrition policies.
“Our family lives in Cambridge because we can walk, bike, or ride the T just about anywhere, and because of the great food culture — from grocery options to restaurants to farmers’ markets and school gardens,” Kim Motylewski, a Cambridge resident and manager of the Cambridge Winter Farmers Market, said online. “Our kids have grown up playing sports in city parks and exploring Cambridge on their bikes. “