The latest American College of Sports Medicine’s list of healthiest U.S. metro areas has been released.
The index is designed to reflect a “composite of personal health measures, preventive health behaviors, levels of chronic disease conditions, as well as environmental and community resources and policies that support physical activity.”
Washington D.C. raced to the top spot for the second year in a row earning a score of 79.6 out of 100.
Despite the blow to my hometown pride, I was happy to see the Twin Cities metro area — neck and neck with San Diego — on D.C.’s heels with a 75.6 score. (Go here to see the complete report.)
While it’s interesting to see which metro areas have the lowest diabetes and cardiovascular disease rates, the highest percentage of cyclists, and the most dog parks, what stood out most to me was Oklahoma City’s placement on the list.
Why do I care about a mid-sized city in the middle of America that came in at 48th out of 50?
Well, it reminded me that a few weeks ago, I came across this 2013 TED Talk by the city’s mayor, Mick Cornett.
After the Republican major was elected in 2004, Cornett noticed his city showed up on a similar list — this one ranking the most obese towns in the U.S.
He says that after thinking, “What a stupid website,” he started “getting honest with myself about what had become my lifelong struggle with obesity.”
He also “started examining the city, its culture, its infrastructure, trying to figure out why our specific city seemed to have a problem with obesity. And I came to the conclusion that we had built an incredible quality of life if you happen to be a car.”
Cornett hoped that honesty would be the best public policy and began talking about the weighty subject of his own obesity — and the city’s need to make healthy changes — in town halls and to the media. He even appeared on the The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
He began using his mayoral powers to promote robust initiatives designed to help residents go from “fattest” to “fittest,” including making infrastructure changes, creating wellness centers, and providing meaty incentives for economic development that enhanced the quality of life of residents.
In 2007, he declared that his city was going on a diet. With the help of church groups, local companies, and the dedicated efforts of the citizens, the people of Oklahoma City dropped a total of a million pounds.
In 2012, Mayor Cornett was thrilled to see that Men’s Fitness magazine — the magazine that listed Oklahoma City so low years earlier — ranked them fittest at #23.
If I’m going to make judgments strictly by the numbers in the latest ACSM report, Oklahoma City looks like it has a lot of work to do to meet its healthy goals. But, numbers never tell the whole story as evidenced by Oklahoma City not being mentioned in the latest Men’s Fitness list of fattest cities. It all depends on the factors, ahem, weighed.
I think we all have a lot in common with Oklahoma City. If you’re like me, you probably know the difficulties present in making long-lasting, healthy change, but the challenges facing an entire town must be daunting. I think Mayor Cornett and the townspeople of Oklahoma City deserve a top-ranking in effort.
Featured image was republished with the permission of ACSM. Created by Carin McBroom at Kern Graphic Design.