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2013 Healthy Communities Grant Program

2013 Healthy Communities Grant Program

An Initiative of the USCM and Weight Watchers International, Inc.

Weight Watchers and the United States Conference of Mayors Name Baltimore (MD), Racine (WI), and York (PA) Recipients of Healthy Communities Grants

New Grant Program will Help Cities Expand Efforts to Address Rising Obesity Rates and Jumpstart Healthy Lifestyles in Low-Income Communities

Weight Watchers International, Inc. and the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) have 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.

The three awarded cities – one large, one medium and one small - were selected by an independent judging panel, and recognized at the USCM 81st Annual Conference in Las Vegas, June 21-24. 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.

Baltimore, Md. – Chronic diseases including heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke are the leading cause of death and disability in Baltimore City. For this reason, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and the Baltimore City Health Department (BCHD) have identified reduction of cardiovascular disease and obesity as key health priorities. Reducing obesity and improving heart health are amongst the priority areas in Healthy Baltimore 2015, the city’s health policy agenda. BCHD has undertaken numerous efforts to counter obesity, including providing access to healthy foods and safe opportunities for physical activity. One program--B’more Fit for Healthy Babies—is designed to help postpartum, low-income women lose weight after giving birth. Weight Watchers leaders host weekly Weight Watchers meetings, and local fitness experts from the YMCA of Central Maryland and Brick Bodies offer weekly exercise instruction to participants. Since the program’s implementation in February 2012, more than a fifth (21.6 percent) of the 278 participants has lost 10 percent of their body weight. The Healthy Communities Grant will allow the program to expand to serve more women in two high-need Baltimore neighborhoods and women and men, including seniors, in another area with high obesity rates.

Racine, Wis. – Obesity rates are 6 percent higher for adults in Racine County than the national average, making chronic disease prevention a top priority for Racine. Mayor John Dickert has led by example by participating in “Beat the Boss” and other worksite wellness competitions to shed weight and increase activity. Mayor Dickert has convinced local business leaders to participate in the Well Racine initiative, a component of Well City USA. As a result, community businesses are successfully providing results-oriented wellness programs for nearly 16,000 employees. Through the Healthy Communities Grant, Racine hopes to expand its Well City Racine designation to a Well County Racine designation. To meet this goal, Well County Racine businesses will work with Weight Watchers to offer qualified residents partially subsidized Weight Watchers memberships. This effort will help Racine take its successful strategies for healthy eating, physical activity, weight loss and reduction of chronic illness to a new level.

York, Pa. –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.

The following videos highlight current healthy lifestyle programs in the winning cities and the way this U.S. Conference of Mayors and Weight Watchers Healthy Communities Grant will help them expand upon those programs.

Congratulations Baltimore, Racine and York!

For information about this program,
please contact:


Crystal Swann
Assistant Executive Director
U.S. Conference of Mayors
1620 I St., NW, 4th Floor
Washington, DC 20006
(202) 293-7330 (w)
cswann@usmayors.org