Journal of Urban Health

, Volume 87, Issue 5, pp 755–770 | Cite as

A Tale of Two ObesCities: The Role of Municipal Governance in Reducing Childhood Obesity in New York City and London

  • Nicholas Freudenberg
  • Kimberly Libman
  • Eileen O’Keefe


As rates of childhood obesity and overweight rise around the world, researchers and policy makers seek new ways to reverse these trends. Given the concentration of the world’s population, income inequalities, unhealthy diets, and patterns of physical activity in cities, urban areas bear a disproportionate burden of obesity. To address these issues, in 2008, researchers from the City University of New York and London Metropolitan University created the Municipal Responses to Childhood Obesity Collaborative. The Collaborative examined three questions: What role has city government played in responding to childhood obesity in each jurisdiction? How have municipal governance structures in each city influenced its capacity to respond effectively? How can policy and programmatic interventions to reduce childhood obesity also reduce the growing socioeconomic and racial/ethnic inequities in its prevalence? Based on a review of existing initiatives in London and New York City, the Collaborative recommended 11 broad strategies by which each city could reduce childhood obesity. These recommendations were selected because they can be enacted at the municipal level; will reduce socioeconomic and racial/ethnic inequalities in obesity; are either well supported by research or are already being implemented in one city, demonstrating their feasibility; build on existing city assets; and are both green and healthy.


Childhood obesity Municipal governance Health inequities Urban health 



The City University of New York (CUNY)/London Metropolitan University (London Met) Collaborative on Municipal Responses to Childhood Obesity was supported by the Chancellors of CUNY and London Met and by the President and Provost of Hunter College. The views in this article are of those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the universities, the governments of New York City or London, or the participants in the Collaborative. We gratefully acknowledge the advice, suggestions, and wisdom of the following participants from New York: Sonia Angell, Marissa Anto, Mary Bassett, Sabrina Baronberg, Tracy Cashin, Lauren Dinour, Jonathan Deutsch, Eric Goldstein, Rhonda Johnson, Hollie Jones, Maura Kennelly, Amy Kwan, Karen Lee, Trudy Lieberman, Maria Isabel G. Loureiro, Kate MacKenzie, Herman McKie, Iris Mercado, Lorraine Mongiello, Cathy Nonas, Kenneth Olden, Roger Platt, Jan Poppendieck, Joan Seigel, Lynn Silver, Arlene Spark, Scott Stringer, Anahi Viladrich, and Ming-Chin Yeh; and from London: Deb Albon, Julia Atkins, Bob Aylett, Anna Baker, Alex Bax, Dee Bhakta, Duncan Bowie, Rachel Cook, Michael Crawford, Daniel Cohen, Helen Davies, George Ellison, Graeme Evans, Gail Findlay, Ruzanna Gevorgyan, Christine Hogg, Bobbie Jacobson, Tim Lobstein, David McCarthy, Livingstone Musoro, Grant Pettit, and Neville Rigby.


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Copyright information

© The New York Academy of Medicine 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicholas Freudenberg
    • 1
  • Kimberly Libman
    • 1
  • Eileen O’Keefe
    • 2
  1. 1.Hunter College and Graduate CenterCity University of New YorkNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Applied Social SciencesLondon Metropolitan UniversityLondonUnited Kingdom

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