Community Pages

Somerville, MA

Shape up under 5 

Building off the successes of the Shape Up Somerville study, and recognizing the importance of establishing healthy behaviors early in life, professionals in the Somerville community teamed up with Catalyzing Communities to form the Shape Up Under 5 Committee in 2015. They worked together for two years to understand and visualize the complex system driving child health in Somerville and identified the need for a public messaging campaign to improve the health of young children from birth through age five.

Community Highlights

Small Steps Campaign

The Small Steps Campaign was created by the Shape Up Under 5 Committee to empower families and caregivers to help all children in Somerville reach kindergarten at a healthy weight. The evidence-based and action-oriented campaign materials include age-specific materials such as posters, brochures, and videos and were distributed in four different languages throughout the Somerville community to encourage inclusive, community-wide adoption of healthy behaviors.    

Better Understanding Early Childhood Obesity  

Through participation in the Stakeholder-driven Community Diffusion framework process, nearly all members of the Shape Up Under 5 Committee reported having a change in perspective related to childhood obesity, including having increased knowledge about early childhood obesity, seeing new value in working across sectors to address this issue, and appreciating the complexity of early childhood obesity. See the SUU5 Systems Map that the group created to visualize the complex system surrounding early childhood obesity in Somerville and read more about the process and outcomes. 

Building early childhood health networks

Shape Up Under 5 started as a group of 16 committed individuals, working to understand and address early childhood obesity in Somerville. By the end of the project, that original group of 16 had collectively identified a network of over 700 people and organizations in the community who were also working to improve the health of young children.

Shape Up Under 5 was part of Childhood Obesity Modeling for Prevention and Community Transformation (COMPACT), which was funded by National Institutes of Health grant #1R01HL115485 from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI). Thank you to the Shape Up Under 5 committee for providing photos for use throughout this website.


From the original Shape Up project through the culmination of Shape Up Under 5, the City of Somerville has been a national leader in the creation and support of environments that help children and families thrive.

See more about how Somerville has served as a national model for healthy communities.

existing network

Learn more about the other communities where Catalyzing Communities is already making a difference in the lives of children and families.