We recently released the list of the healthiest cities in the USA. Sadly, my hometown ended up on the list of the unhealthiest cities. There are many factors that determine whether a city or state is considered to be healthy or unhealthy, including the personal health of the citizens, ability for citizens to walk or bike to work, and number of fast food restaurants per square miles (OKC wins again in this bad competition).
Many members of Congress are proud to display their states’ best assets in their offices in Washington, D.C. Often times this includes flags, artwork by artists from their districts, and even local snacks. The New York Times recently released a list of the snacks that several Congress members keep in their offices. Perhaps there is a link between the food political officials offer and how healthy their state is? Let’s take a look.
As the mayor of one of the country’s fattest cities, Mick Cornett is not taking this one sitting down. He appeared on Ellen’s show last week where he introduced the country to Oklahoma City’s million pound weight loss initiative- This City is Going On A Diet. They built a Web site of the same name where Oklahoma City citizens can create a free account, track their weight and find valuable resources to help them in their effort.
There is a generous list of weight loss programs, local trainers and nutritionists and other advice about eating right and staying active. Mayor Cornett explains that without the program and the site “We’d be doing a disservice to our citizenry by pretending the obesity epidemic is going away on its own. We have to change what we expect. This is something that we as a community can take on and turn around.”
Since launching This City is Going on a Diet January 1, Oklahoma City has lost more than 13,000 pounds. The goal is for the city to lose a million pounds- and unlike the Just Lose It Meridian campaign in Meridian, MS championed by fellow mayor John Robert Smith, Oklahoma City doesn’t have a deadline. “There’s no time limit on the program. As long as it’s working and successful- there’s no reason to stop it,” explains Mick.
In addition to putting the resources together to create this weight loss program, Oklahoma City also has 300 miles of new sidewalks planned and putting in nearly 50 new elementary gymnasiums. “We have to turn the culture to a community that places a high priority on healthcare, values young people and is more pedestrian friendly,” says Mick. What does Oklahoma City gain in return? The Mayor says “We gain a more energetic workforce and citizenry.”
While Oklahoma City tops the country in the most fast food restaurants per capita in the U.S. (a fact the Mayor places on being an auto-based community and the low price of land making it easy for companies to support their business model), it has no plans to put a moratorium on the opening of these restaurants.
The Mayor was headed out yesterday to Washington D.C. for the bi-annual Conference of Mayors. While the agenda is set in advance and no discussion about Oklahoma City’s or Meridian’s weight loss initiatives are slated, he imagines he’ll have an opportunity to share thoughts with Mayor John Robert Smith among others to compare notes and possibly encourage others to follow suit.
The Mayor seems to be traveling a lot- as he’s just back from his visit to Ellen in L.A. Of his visit with Ellen? “It was a lot of fun. I was so impressed by her talent.” He thought that compared to her, and what her audience is used to, he thought his topic was a little mundane. But apparently Ellen helped spread the word because OKC’s This City is Going on a Diet had 2,000 sign-ups that day alone.
As per usual with Ellen’s guests, everyone was anticipating a dance from Mayor Cornett. He got off easy since the host was sick that day, but he says “I was prepared if necessary, but not disappointed about not dancing.”
Thanks Mayor for visiting with us today- and good luck to Oklahoma City on shedding those pounds!