Government Health & Environment

City of Boston Failing Weight Loss Challenge

Mayor Menino cuts the ribbon at the Scooper Bowl ice-cream festival on Government Center Plaza last June (City of Boston photo)

The City of Boston is failing miserably at the Mayor’s Million Pound Challenge. Launched last Spring to great fanfare, Bostonians have only lost 74,597 pounds as the deadline approaches, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal.

In June, a mere two months after the challenge began, the city kicked off “Fitness on the Plaza,” a series of free exercise classes for the citizenry to work off its blubber. But the same week in the same place—City Hall Plaza—Boston tempted the sweet tooth by hosting the annual “Scooper Bowl,” billed as the nation’s largest all-you-can-eat ice-cream festival, offering delicacies from Rockin’ Poppin’ Cotton Candy to Hunka Chunka PB Fudge.

“A little mixed messaging,” concedes Nick Martin, spokesman for the Boston Public Health Commission.

Misery loves company and it appears that while community dieting is a popular refrain among politicians, it has rarely succeeded. In nearby Walpole, the WSJ article says the town lost only 100 pounds, 10% of the 1,000 pound goal. One 63 year-old resident is quoted as saying, “My problem is I like to party hearty.”

The Mayor’s Million Pound Challenge website is still up and running with a 2013 New Year’s message:

We are more than halfway to our miles goal, but we still have progress to make on the pounds. Losing weight is always a challenge, but by supporting each other, I know we can reach our goal.

At the State level, Governor Deval Patrick sees an opportunity and recently proposed a candy and soda tax as part of his budget plan. After Boston’s epic failure, perhaps the Governor thinks that hitting the wallet might be more successful asking citizens to hit the gym.

Read the full article at the Wall Street Journal.