BPHC logoToday, Mayor Thomas M. Menino and Barbara Ferrer, executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission, launched Boston Moves for Health, an ambitious campaign to improve the health and fitness of the city of Boston. Making the announcement from Blue Cross Blue Shield, Mayor Menino challenged Bostonians to collectively lose one million pounds and walk 10 million miles as part of the initiative.

Joined by the campaign’s lead sponsors Blue Cross Blue Shield, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, and Partners HealthCare, the Mayor unveiled www.BostonMovesForHealth.org. This free online resource allows participants to set health goals, record their individual progress, find community resources to help keep them on track, connect with friends and neighbors to share tips and workout routines, and view the city’s progress toward meeting the challenge goals.

“Together, we have come a long way toward making Boston a healthier city, and Boston Moves for Health is the next step forward,” said Mayor Menino. “We have added healthier beverages to vending machines and cafeterias in our schools and city buildings, launched the innovative Bounty Bucks program to improve purchasing power at farmers markets, built hundreds of backyard and community gardens, and changed the way we use our city streets through the Hubway bike share program. Now residents can bring even more healthy changes home to their communities by joining Boston Moves for Health.”

While Boston was ranked the third healthiest city in the country in the American College of Sports Medicine’s 2011 American Fitness Index, obesity rates remain a challenge. Although rates in Boston are lower than the national average, 56% of Boston’s adults are overweight or obese, with higher percentages in communities of color. Meanwhile, only 26% of Boston’s adults and only 19% of Boston high school students consume five or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily.

Boston Moves for Health aims to make significant progress in reducing the obesity rate in the city. The initiative has four main goals:

  • Increase opportunities for adults to be more physically active, eat healthy foods, and reduce their consumption of sugary drinks;
  • Increase opportunities for children and youth in childcare settings, schools, and out-of-school-time programs to be physically active and to be offered water with meals and snacks;
  • Increase the number of workplaces that promote and provide healthy beverages and offer employees opportunities to attain/maintain a healthy weight; and
  • Increase the number of patients and neighborhood residents participating in programs that promote healthy eating and/or active living.

At the kickoff event, Dr. Ferrer presented an action plan to promote healthy weight and healthy communities in Boston. The plan’s objectives focus on increasing physical activity and healthy eating for people of all ages.

“We know that getting to a healthy weight and being active is so important for overall health, but we also know how tough that can be to achieve. Boston Moves for Health is a fun and interactive way to help people stay on track to meet their health goals by providing community support, free resources, and exciting activities,” said Dr. Ferrer.

First proposed in Mayor Menino’s 2012 State of the City Address, Boston Moves for Health has brought together partners from across the city and from different industries to support the health and wellness of residents.

“Getting Boston’s neighborhoods moving can help Bostonians live healthier lives, and keep health care costs down.  It’s great that Mayor Menino is bringing the city together to take on such an important public health issue – we are proud to support Boston Moves for Health,” said Andrew Dreyfus, President and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield.

“As the City of Boston’s health plan, we are proud to partner with Mayor Menino to keep City residents as healthy as they can be by making healthy choices, the easy choices,” said Eric H. Schultz, President and CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care.

“At Partners, we have a deep commitment to the people and the neighborhoods of Boston, and are very pleased to be part of the Mayor’s initiative,” said Gary Gottlieb, MD, President and CEO, Partners HealthCare. “Our pledge of $100,000 to Boston Moves for Health builds upon the work already underway at Partners and our founding hospitals – Brigham and Women’s and Mass General – through our focus on prevention and keeping people healthy. Our commitment complements the hard work that others are doing in this area as well as addresses critical gaps and health disparities.”

In the coming months, the initiative will expand to include a corporate challenge; community events such as yoga on City Hall Plaza and zumba at community centers; physical activity challenges at schools; walking groups in every neighborhood; and other ways to get involved throughout the City.

Join the Mayor’s the challenge at www.BostonMovesForHealth.org, and share your healthy tips, favorite workout routines, and successes at Facebook.com/HealthyBoston and on Twitter @HealthyBoston #BostonMoves.