Richard A. Daynard and Mark Gottlieb are absolutely right that when it comes to the obesity epidemic, “Prevention is the only viable option.” (How to fight America’s obesity epidemic, The Boston Globe, January 8, 2009). The recommendations set forth by Northeastern’s School of Law, coupled with Deval Patrick’s anti-obesity campaign, illustrate the point that we need to take a collaborative, holistic approach to fighting obesity.
As the head of a youth serving organization focused exclusively on serving girls—more than 50% of whom are Black and Hispanic, populations which have been reported to be more prone to obesity—I am acutely aware of how the obesity epidemic is affecting children and adolescents in our city. Our organization has taken steps to address this growing concern, in much the same way that our programs aim to prevent violence, bullying, drug and alcohol usage, teen pregnancy, and dropping out of school.
We have partnered with wellness-minded organizations such as Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare Foundation, Healthworks, Dorchester-based Stajez Center for the Arts, and The Women’s Sports Foundation’s GoGirlGo! program to promote more physical activities for our Big and Little Sister matches and provide funding for healthy food options at events we host for them. We are offering more no-cost, fitness-centered activities for our matches and providing them with information to stimulate conversation about making healthy choices for your body.
I would encourage other youth serving organizations in and around Boston to do the same. Let us work collaboratively to combat childhood obesity and promote a healthy lifestyle for the next generation. Let us follow the lead of President-elect Obama and realize that “together we can” create a brighter and lighter future for our children.