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Mayor Menino Challenges Bostonians To Lose 1 Million Pounds

By Lisa Hughes, WBZ-TV
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Award-winning journalist Lisa Hughes is a news anchor for WBZ-TV News...
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BOSTON (CBS) – We usually hear nothing but bad news about how fat Americans are, but today, there’s actually good news about childhood obesity. That news comes as a program to encourage Bostonians to lose 1,000,000 pounds began.

Mayor Tom Menino kicked off “Boston Moves For Health” Monday. He decided to start a diet and fitness program for the city after meeting an overweight kid during Thanksgiving. “Today is a call to action,” says Menino. “We’re going to connect people with resources to help them achieve a healthy weight and make Boston 1,000,000 pounds lighter,” he says.

The cornerstone is a new web site, BostonMovesForHealth.org, where you can keep a record of what you’re eating as well as your physical activity, find support and track your progress. And the mayor isn’t stopping at the 1-million pound challenge. “To really get Boston moving I want to see us walk 10-million miles together this year, or run or bike or swim or skip, the choice is yours,” he says.

Even the Red Sox are getting on board. “We are going to schedule a Boston Moves day at Fenway Park this summer to focus our fans and the entire region on this initiative,” says Larry Lucchino, the president of the Red Sox.

And the really good news, a new report finds a drop in childhood obesity. The Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute studied 37,000 Massachusetts pre-schoolers and found that for girls the obesity rate fell from 9% to a bit over 6% from 2004 to 2008. For boys, it fell from nearly 11% to just under 9%.

“I think it’s kind of an encouraging message for the people,” says Dr. Xiaozhong Wen who works with Harvard Pilgrim’s obesity reduction program and is the lead author of the new study. He says it’s important to focus on children. “For the obesity problem it’s always better or easier to prevent it than to treat it,” says Dr. Wen.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030′s Carl Stevens reports

The researchers aren’t exactly sure why the obesity rates went down, but they theorize that it may have something to do with an increase in breastfeeding and a decrease in women smoking during pregnancy. Both those factors have been shown to impact a child’s weight. Even though this single study shows progress, it also highlights one troubling factor, that obesity rates didn’t decline as much for poor children.

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