Bronx County Recognized as One Of HealthyCommunity50 Members in Healthiest Cities and Counties Challenge

September 20, 2016

New York, NY (September 15, 2016) – The Bronx, New York has been selected as one of 50 members of the HealthyCommunity50 in the Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge and will receive a $10,000 community seed award. By participating in the Challenge, The Bronx is now in the running to receive a prize of up to $500,000 that will support their local program, the Healthy Beverage Zone (HBZ).

The Challenge, a partnership between the Aetna Foundation, the American Public Health Association and the National Association of Counties, launched in April during National Public Health Week. The Challenge will award $1.5 million in prizes to small and mid-sized cities, counties and federally-recognized tribes that are able to show measurable change over the course of several years working with cross-sector partnerships to implement health innovations and data-driven solutions. Hundreds of city governments, local municipalities, health departments, educational institutions and other public/private entities from around the country submitted their entries to be a part of the Challenge.

The HealthyCommunity50 were chosen based on plans to improve the health of their communities in at least one of five domains: Healthy behaviors, community safety, built environment, social/economic factors and environmental exposures.

Bronx Health REACH is excited for the opportunity to participate in the Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge (HCCC) as we work with the Bronx community to encourage water consumption as an alternative to sugar-sweetened beverages. According to the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity, every 8-ounce sugary drink added to a child’s diet increases his or her risk of obesity by 60% and advertisements for these products are associated with increased consumption. We believe the HCCC award will allow us to have a real impact on health outcomes and reducing health disparities in the South Bronx, where rates of obesity, diabetes, and related diseases disproportionately affect our communities.

Union Community Health Center (UCHC), along with partners of the Bronx’s #Not62 campaign such as Bronx Health REACH, came together to form the HBZ, a committee motivating Bronxites to ditch the sugary beverages and instead drink more water. The project concentrates on furthering positive health outcomes throughout the Bronx and decreasing the number of chronic diseases that Bronxites develop as a result of increased consumption of sugary beverages. Ultimately, the goal is to champion the Bronx to take back their health by making healthier beverage choices.

With the Bronx having some of the highest rates of diet-related diseases such as obesity, diabetes, fatty liver disease and dental caries in New York State, support from the Aetna Foundation will serve to inspire Bronx residents to take steps toward a healthier lifestyle and elevate the Bronx from being the least healthy county. Continued efforts like the #Not62 campaign and the HBZ project are creating slow and steady change in terms of meeting healthcare demands of the Bronx. A recent report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation shows that the Bronx now performs better across several measures, including length of life, sexually transmitted infections and preventable hospitalizations. The borough has also been recognized for encouraging bodegas to sell healthy food and building more green spaces where residents can exercise, among other improvements.

All selected HealthyCommunity50 members will be visited by an expert judge panel to answer questions, understand the community’s approach to the project first-hand and speak with the members of the cross-sector team and key stakeholders. At the conclusion of the Challenge, the programs most able to show measurable change will be eligible for prize awards up to $500,000. Participants will be judged on their own progress and will not be competing against each other. For more information, visit