MetroWest Moves: Supporting Policy and Systems Change to Reduce Chronic Diseases

Dates: 2012-2014

State: Massachusetts

Client(s): Town of Hudson

Services: Health Care & Public Health Planning, Applied Research & Evaluation

Technical Expertise: Chronic Disease Management, Population Health, State and Local Public Health, Healthy Communities


Like much of the rest of the nation, residents of Framingham, Hudson, and Marlborough, Massachusetts, suffer from obesity, inadequate fruit and vegetable consumption, and physical inactivity. In these communities, approximately 19% of adults are obese, 77% of adults consume fewer than 5 fruits and vegetables per day, and 19% of adults are completely sedentary. Not only do these unhealthy behaviors threaten the people's health, but they also have negative health and economic consequences for these communities.

Neighborhoods that support healthy choices help prevent obesity and chronic disease. To achieve healthy neighborhoods requires change in both the food environment—how and where food is grown, distributed, and sold—and the physical environment—how neighborhoods are built and how the transportation systems serve them. Considerable resources are being spent on obesity prevention efforts, but public health efforts alone cannot solve the obesity epidemic. It’s critical that public health partnerships include traditional as well as non-traditional partners, such as land use and transportation planners, housing authorities, the business community, agriculture/farmers, local and regional government, schools, and others.

Framingham, Hudson, and Marlborough have formed a tri-community partnership collectively known as MetroWest Moves. The partnership has been awarded a grant to help it create supportive environments where residents have access to healthy, affordable food and places to be physically active. JSI provided coordination and leadership to support policies, systems, and environmental changes around healthy eating and active living in these three communities.

This tri-community partnership engaged the services of JSI to increase healthy beverage options in community vending machines, work with local restaurants to promote healthier dining options, and incorporate “complete street” standards into transportation planning to enable safe, attractive, and comfortable access and travel for all users.

Funding for this Mass in Motion program came from the Middlesex Community Transformation Grant, awarded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the MetroWest Health Foundation. The Metropolitan Area Planning Council collaborated with the Department of Public Health to write the community transformation grant for Middlesex County.

Read more about the MetroWest Moves initiative kickoff event