Learning Lessons from Louisville, Kentucky's Fight Against Obesity

As the obesity epidemic in America continues to rise, some cities are fighting back to slim down their citizens. I loved today's article in the New York Times about Louisville, Kentucky's efforts to increase physical activity and fitness.  Their accomplishments serve as a blueprint for other cities and even individual families.  Some of their suggestions could help you lose weight! It's shocking to read that more than six in 10 citizens of Louisville are seriously overweight and the state is ranked seventh in overall obesity in the country. Part of the problem has been traced back to the prevalence and accessibility of cheap fast-food restaurants in the city.

A 2008 study in the Nutrition Reviews medical journal found that neighborhoods with fewer economic and social resources have higher rates of obesity. This has certainly been true in parts of Louisville where some of the poorer neighborhoods have been struggling with weight problems.

Realizing that the situation was only getting worse, the city of Louisville was helped by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a philanthropic organization that focuses its efforts on health and health care, to coordinate its efforts into a campaign to increase healthy living and decrease obesity. Though any changes to overall obesity statistics will likely be slow, simple differences like increased fresh fruit consumption and rising popularity of area parks and bike lanes are very encouraging signs.

While Louisville is a telling example of some of the problems and solutions in the battle against American obesity, it is only one of many. In shows like "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution," chef and television personality Jamie Oliver has been traveling around to some of the unhealthiest cities in America to promote healthier eating and physical activity. Chefs know what goes into food and how to make it healthy, so it's great to see a big food personality trying to get the word out and get people excited about healthy eating.

Other cities have similarly recognizes the need to increase physical fitness and promote healthy living. In New York City, a not-for-profit organization called Asphalt Green has set up various campus locations around the city, each offering programs and activities to teach residents the importance of leading a healthy life and how to go about doing it.

Besides decreasing obesity, living healthily is also important as it can help lower cholesterol, stress, and the risks of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes, and increase energy, life expectancy, and overall well being.

What can you do to stay active and lose weight?

Generally speaking, the best strategy for staying fit is going outside and being active, along with eating a balanced and healthy diet. Simple choices like walking to the farmers' market, choosing healthier ingredients when planning a meal, and cutting down on meat consumption can help with daily health.

Start your day with a healthy, protein-rich breakfast of nuts or yogurt.  This will help kick start your metabolism for the day and cut down on cravings later on.

Another way to stay healthy is to monitor what you eat and try to keep it in line with USDA recommended intakes. The recently unveiled MyPlate graphic is a great and easy way to stay smart on portion control.

Unfortunately, many jobs often keep up inside and seated for several hours each days, so check out some of these tips on how to stay active in the work place.

How are you going to stay fit this summer?