Case Study: Shape Up Somerville

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This case study, written by FSG, focuses on Shape Up Somerville, a city-wide collective impact campaign to reduce obesity and promote health in the city of Somerville, Massachusetts. This case study provides collective impact backbone organizations, funders, and partners with an overview of the initiative and key lessons learned.

Key Facts
Initiative / backbone name: Shape Up Somerville
Year initiative formed: 2003
Mission: To take a community-based, participatory, environmental approach to prevent obesity for the people who live in, work in, or visit Somerville
Geography: Somerville, MA
Impact area(s): Health

Summary
Shape up Somerville (SUS) is a city-wide collective impact campaign to reduce obesity by engaging schools, city government, civic organizations, community groups, businesses, and other people who live in, work in, and visit the city of Somerville, Mass. The effort has made significant changes for the city through programming, physical infrastructure improvements, and policy work.

Problem
Much like the rest of the country, the youth of the city of Somerville, Mass., faced an obesity epidemic.

  • By 2003, 44% of all youth were overweight or obese.
  • The rate of obesity was disproportionately high among racial and ethnic minorities.
  • Studies showed that overweight adolescents had a 70% chance of becoming overweight or obese adults.

The city needed proactive strategies to support obesity prevention for both youth and adults. Unfortunately, most previous solutions were not as comprehensive or collaborative as necessary.

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