Weight Watchers International, Inc. and the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) today named three cities as recipients of Healthy Communities Grants. The Healthy Communities Grant Program is a new USCM and Weight Watchers initiative designed to help communities curb obesity by fostering healthy lifestyles. The three winning cities – Baltimore, Md.; Racine, Wis.; and York, Pa. – were recognized for their leadership in developing healthy lifestyle programs within their respective communities with a special focus on low-income areas.The Grant Program’s goal is to recognize and broaden innovative solutions to the obesity epidemic by galvanizing governments, businesses and community members to work together to foster healthier living environments.
“About a third of adults in the U.S. today are obese1 and if we stay on this current trajectory, by 2030, that number will rise to almost half of U.S. men and women, across all 50 states2,” said David Kirchhoff, CEO, Weight Watchers International, Inc. “Weight Watchers commends the vote this week by the American Medical Association to recognize obesity as a disease. It’s been well established that it causes other chronic health conditions including heart disease and type 2 diabetes. To prevent obesity and costly obesity-related diseases, treatment must go beyond the commonly-heard advice to eat less and exercise more. We must act now with solutions that are proven to be effective, sustainable and deliverable in scalable way.”
The three awarded cities – one large, one medium and one small that were selected by an independent judging panel – will be recognized Monday, June 24 at the USCM 81st Annual Conference in Las Vegas. Each city will use this new grant to build upon its successful efforts to foster healthy eating, increase physical activity, and promote weight loss and weight management through access to partially subsidized Weight Watchers memberships for local residents who qualify based on health status and financial need. The total retail value of all Weight Watchers memberships offered as part of the grant is up to $1 million across the three cities. Each of the three cities will also receive a $25,000 grant to administer their new program and build capacity for its success.*
“Collaborating with the U.S. Conference of Mayors on this initiative is part of our commitment to work with public leaders to help combat obesity with community-based solutions,” said Kirchhoff. “We look forward to working with Baltimore, Racine and York to support their efforts by providing the Weight Watchers proven approach to weight loss to those who otherwise may not be able to afford our program.”
“The U.S. Conference of Mayors has long been committed to mayor-driven health promotion activities in communities nationwide,” said U.S. Conference of Mayors President and Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter. “We are proud to work with Weight Watchers on this important initiative to help cities support
qualifying residents in achieving a healthier lifestyle. We commend Baltimore, Racine and York for their commitment to healthy living, and congratulate them on being selected as grant recipients.”
In recognizing the grant recipients at the annual meeting, Weight Watchers and USCM will showcase each recipient city’s innovative approach to health promotion in a USCM and Weight Watchers Healthy Communities Grant Program video. Brief descriptions of each city’s program and quotes from winning city Mayors are below:
Inspired by the First Lady’s Let’s Move program, Mayor C. Kim Bracey launched Let’s Move York City in September 2012 and set a goal for residents to shed 5,000 pounds and log 350,000 minutes of physical activity in a year. Let’s Move York City strives to foster healthy lifestyles supporting innovative
programs such as “Healthy Kids on the Move,” “Play Streets” and “Eat, Play, Breathe York.” One in three York residents lives below the poverty level, so the Healthy Communities Grant is designed to help parents
who qualify, through body mass index and income-level criteria, gain access to partially subsidized Weight Watchers memberships. The goal is to give York adults knowledge and tools to reach a healthier weight so that they can, by example, teach their children healthy behaviors and how to be more active for life.
“With a third of our residents living below the poverty level, it’s critical that we provide low-cost solutions to help them stay healthy and fit,” said York Mayor C. Kim Bracey. “That’s a major motivation behind the development of Let’s Move York City. With the generous support of Weight Watchers International and the Conference of Mayors, we’ll be able to significantly expand our level of services, and make a real dent in our fight to reverse adult obesity trends in our city.”
More information on the Healthy Communities Grant Program and winners is available at usmayors.org/weightwatchers.