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How An Obese Town Lost A Million Lbs

April 09, 2014 2 min read

Although this happened back in 2012, I hadn’t heard of it until now. Realizing that his beloved city was ranked as one of the most obese towns in America, Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett devised a plan to make his city healthier, and shared his innovations in this TED talk. If you listen to the first 5 minutes you will learn a lot about the history of Oklahoma. If you want to jump ahead, you will hear how Cornett first learned about Oklahoma’s high rank on the list of obese cities. He started the change with his own weight, at that time 220lbs, and according to BMI, obese for his age and height. He lost 1lb a week for 40 weeks, and in that time he thought about why his city seemed to have a problem with obesity. He realized that Oklahoma was a very car contingent city: spread out, great highways and road systems, and several areas with low walkability. The culture and infrastructure just didn’t support an active lifestyle. He decided to begin his campaign by simply talking about it, announcing that this city was going on a diet, and they were going to lose 1 million lbs. He started a website and encouraged his town to join the challenge, asking the media to endorse it, even going on the Ellen show to promote the site. obeseokc_million_logo_w_people It became a topic discussed at schools, supported by church running groups, and leading to the creation of company wellness programs. Now that the conversation had begun they could focus on infrastructure. They built a new central park, put in a streetcar in the downtown core, and are working towards opening up a sports facility on the river for canoe, kayak, and rowing. Other initiatives that the Oklahoma municipal government is putting in play include: building miles of new sidewalk, making their streets more pedestrian friendly, connecting schools and libraries to residential neighbourhoods by sidewalk or trails, and creating a bicycle trail throughout the city. obese oklahoma2 It’s interesting to see weight loss from the government’s perspective, to see what change can actually be accomplished by the people in charge. Now, they haven’t only lost a million pounds, and gotten off of the list of the most obese towns, they’ve now managed to make it onto the list of fittest cities – now I’d love to see if it can be done in other towns.

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