Integrative Nutrition Blog

Health Coaches Working with Underserved Communities in Boston

August 14, 2015

There’s no doubt that the current health crisis is hitting underserved populations particularly hard. The poorest areas of the United States have the highest rates of obesity, diabetes, and premature death.  

According to IIN visiting teacher Dr. Mark Hyman, that’s no coincidence. Though the reasons relate to a complex dynamic of socioeconomic factors, it boils down to the scarcity and cost of healthy food. 

Fast food is far cheaper than fresh fruits and vegetables, and many people live in food deserts where the number of McDonalds far outnumbers any grocery stores. 

This is the case in Roxbury, a Boston neighborhood where the average life expectancy is 33 years shorter than more affluent neighborhoods. 

But amazing things have been developing lately in Roxbury with the launch of a new fitness club and community garden. The Whittier Street Health Center in Roxbury is determined to make healthy food and exercise available and affordable to all. 

At their side? A team of Health Coaches. “The key for us to get people engaged and to maintain it is for us to stay connected to them,” says CEO Frederica Williams. That’s where Health Coaches come in. “They serve as the motivator.” 

Most people are first referred to the center by a doctor, where they will visit a Health Coach to work on a self-management plan. If a patient receives a referral to the fitness club and doesn’t come to work out within two weeks, the Health Coach follows up. 

In a pilot program a couple of years ago, the results were incredibly encouraging. The center hosted Zumba classes, and around 600 people came and actually stuck with it. 

We are so inspired that Health Coaches are spreading a ripple effect of health and happiness around the world, especially where it’s needed most. Keep up the amazing work, Roxbury! 

What do you think of this incredible development? Let us know in the comments section below!

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