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Hip-hop health, a 'party with a purpose'

By Stephanie Smith CNN | 9/29/2013, 12:35 p.m.
The classroom walls tremble as a room full of 8-year-olds bob heads, shrug shoulders and wriggle around in sync with the thud of the bass. Photo courtesy of Hip Hop Public Health.

"We found that caloric purchases declined by about 25%," Williams said. "So they were buying more healthy items as a result of the intervention."

The lingering question for this intervention -- and for the Hip Hop Public Health program more generally -- is how to sustain this change.

After reaching tens of thousands of children in New York, Hip Hop Public Health got a shout-out -- and a request to collaborate -- from the Partnership for a Healthier America, whose ambassador is first lady Michelle Obama.

What evolved from that partnership is an album, releasing Monday, called "Songs for a Healthier America."

The album moves the songs beyond hip-hop into other genres (some of the artists contributing to the album include Ashanti, Travis Barker and Matisyahu) and will be distributed, along with a curriculum, to schools nationwide.

Williams is convinced the model that began in New York, with a neurologist and a few rappers, could make a powerful impact in schools across the country.

"This really teaches us how impressionable kids are and how we have an opportunity to shape their behaviors at a young age," he said.

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