Sunday, September 22, 2013

Losing weight, winning the obesity war: San Antonio.

San Antonio, according to Men's Health, is the 7th fattest city in America.  

Texas in general maintains 5 of the top 10 fattest cities:

1.  Corpus Christi, TX
2.  Charleston, WV
3.  El Paso, TX (yikes!!)
4.  Dallas, TX
5.  Memphis, TN
6.  Kansas City, MO
7.  San Antonio, TX
8.  Baltimore, MD
9.  Houston, TX
10.  Birmingham, AL

But unlike these other cities, San Antonio has dumped a lot of money into overcoming this stigma and in August, the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District announced that the obesity rate in San Antonio dropped from 35.1% to 28.5% over the past 2 years, per the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey.  The big (little?) deal here is that San Antonio is now below the state obesity rate, which has actually increased over the past 2 years.

I moved away from San Antonio a few years ago, and returning this summer I can absolutely see the difference that this money made in the city's fitness emphasis.

There are salad bars in schools.  And at even the most authentic restaurants, I see lighter, lower-fat options highlighted.
This morning, the first cool morning of the season, I ran the Salado Greenway and stumbled on a sign at the Tobin Trailhead indicating "Free fitness classes here!" sponsored by the Mayor's Fitness Council.

The trail system itself has been expanded for miles.  It's well-groomed, superbly maintained, and a haven for fitness enthusiasts and wildlife.  I plod along with walkers, runners, cyclists (even ellipticyclists!) of all levels and body compositions there. 

Along the Riverwalk, I now see bicycles for use- free for 30 minutes, after that a nominal fee- which can be turned in at various locations around town.  If you're smart, you could bike all over town for free, relaying from bike turn in to next bike turn in.

The city buses (VIA public transport Bike and Ride) have bike racks on the front.  No extra fee to pop your bike on the bus!

All this comes to a total of $15.6M.  That's a lot of money in these tricky economic times, but what a savings in terms of easing our future healthcare cost burden.  I'll call it a victorious battle in the war on obesity, which is now classified as a disease.  And what a triumph for the 70,000 San Antonians who can now call themselves free of obesity.   

Though the city of San Antonio fights on, the larger problem remains that the Texas obesity rate itself is just far too high.

What is your city doing about this epidemic??  I'm not sure what El Paso plans.  I saw several new trails under construction last I visited, but sadly there isn't the overall metropolitan fitness gestalt that I feel here in San Antonio.

Read more here:
City of San Antonio Obesity Rate Drops Below State Average
Mayor's Fitness Council: a citywide 8-week challenge