- Mass in Motion is a comprehensive health promotion program that encourages physical activity and healthy eating throughout Massachusetts.
- The initiative’s multi-setting approach includes schools, childcare centers, businesses, municipalities/communities, and more.
- Mass in Motion’s extensive public-private partnerships allow for state-sponsored engagement of community partners and stakeholders.
- Efforts target people at locations where they are easily reached, such as schools and workplaces.
- Pilot communities showed greater average BMI reductions than comparison communities.
Mass in Motion is a statewide initiative that promotes physical activity and healthy diets in schools, communities, childcare centers, and businesses, primarily through spearheading policy changes and supporting wellness-related programming. Since 2009, the initiative has launched a Municipal Wellness and Leadership Grant Program that supports over 60 community programs centered on helping people make healthy lifestyle changes. Mass in Motion has also introduced new state regulations that require BMI screenings and adherence to nutrition standards in public schools, as well as an Executive Order that mandates that state agencies abide by nutrition standards when making large-scale food purchases. Furthermore, Mass in Motion has created programs like Working on Wellness and MA Children at play, focused on increasing workplace wellness and developing healthy habits in preschool, respectively. The Mass in Motion Healthy Dining Program helps participating restaurants create healthier menus, and the Health Market Program works with convenience stores to increase healthy, affordable food options.
Keys to Success
State-sponsored, public-private partnered
Support for a program at the state level (or in the case of Massachusetts, the Commonwealth) has certain advantages in terms of scaling programming. Because of the Massachusetts government’s sponsorship, Mass in Motion (MiM) could be piloted in many different communities and eventually expanded to more than 60 different cities and towns in Massachusetts. The initiative can be replicated in new towns without a proportional increase in the number of resources and employees needed, as state-level employees, like coordinators. are already in place, and program materials already exist.
MiM has focused on creating public-private partnerships to promote sustained health change beyond the possibilities of a stand-alone state initiative. These partnerships involve local businesses, restaurants, grocery stores, etc., in creating changes in the health behaviors of communities.
Incentives for healthy communities
MiM uses competition and rewards to incentivize healthier communities at a variety of levels. For example, MiM gives out grants of up to $60,000 to support towns and cities working on cross-sector, community efforts to promote health and wellness. MiM also provides incentives for businesses that make healthy changes. The Healthy Market Program, for instance, rewards grocers that meet certain health criteria set by MiM. These stores can then use the MiM designation for self-promotion.
Strong awareness of community factors and disparities
MiM displays a strong awareness of the various environmental factors that are major drivers in shaping the health behaviors of a community. MiM carefully considers the influence of the built environment on health, and develops efforts to increase the amount of safe play space and pedestrian/bike travel options in communities.In addition, MiM creates programs that target residents in places where they are easy to reach and where they spend a large proportion of their time. The “Working on Wellness” program, for example, focuses on making workplaces healthier for adults, while MA Children at Play is directed toward schools.
Ability to Inspire
The initial results of Mass in Motion, measured in 5 pilot communities from 2009-2011, demonstrated a 2.4% reduction in BMI, as compared to a 0.4% reduction in non-MiM control communities. Partly based on this success, MiM now includes more than 60 cities and towns.
Mass in Motion distributed nearly $9 million between 2009 and 2016 to support community health programs.
Drawbacks and Limitations
While state support helps MiM spread relatively easily to other towns in Massachusetts, this support creates potential challenges in finding additional funding. As the number of towns involved in MiM grows, the program needs to either decrease the amount of grant funding per town, or add to the general pool of grant money.
Sustaining funding may also be a challenge for MiM for reasons that could impact almost any childhood obesity intervention. As the program becomes increasingly successful, the demonstrated outcomes will shift from BMI reductions to BMI maintenance, making it potentially more difficult to justify the value of the initiative.
- “Mass in Motion Highlights – 2013” (Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Public Health, n.d.), http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/docs/dph/mass-in-motion/mim-highlights.pdf.
- Katharine Tull and Michael Doonan, “Mass in Motion: Addressing Overweight and Obesity in the Commonwealth” (The Massachusetts Health Policy Forum, May 2009), https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/ba9c/08140803437ebf99dcbc0147c3f3a66ab105.pdf.
- “Mass in Motion Highlights – 2013.”
- “Mass in Motion,” Mass.gov – Health and Human Services, 2016, http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/gov/departments/dph/programs/community-health/mass-in-motion/.
- “Working on Wellness,” Massachusetts Working on Wellness, n.d., http://mawow.org.
- “MA Children at Play,” Mass.gov – Health and Human Services, 2016, http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/gov/departments/dph/programs/community-health/mass-in-motion/child-care/at-play/.
- “Mass in Motion Communities Show Significant Decreases in Childhood Obesity Rates: Early Analysis Shows Promising Trend” (Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Public Health, n.d.), http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/docs/dph/mass-in-motion/bmi-success-story.pdf.
- “Mass in Motion.”
- Allison F. Bauer, Pamela Hung, and Megan F. Toohey, “The Evolution of Mass in Motion: One State’s Response to a National Epidemic” (The Boston Foundation, April 2016), https://www.tbf.org/~/media/TBFOrg/Files/Reports/MiM_Apr2016.pdf