The statistics are dire. One in six people in metro Louisville are considered seriously overweight, while the state is #7 on the list of US states with the highest rates of obesity. According to a recent New York Times article by Stephanie Strom, there is a fast food corridor that spans 2.8 miles and offers two dozen fast food selections including McDonalds and local options. According to Ms. Strom's research we should all remember that the Colonel's favorite recipe of fried chicken began in this state. Not to undermine a local concoction - the Hot Brown, a sandwich that offers turkey bacon swimming in Mornay sauce.
There have been public health campaigns in this state but despite encouragement to walk and hike, rates of physical activity outside of the workplace, have actually fallen. Some good news? KFC will be introducing its first "unfried dish" and will provide calorie, fat and salt information for all offerings. On the other hand, Yum Brands has been working on turning Kentucky into one of the first states to allow food stamp use for Pizza Hut and Taco Bell (are you kidding me??). One expert quoted in Ms. Stom's article was quick to offer that, "doing that would make the unhealthy option the easier one."
Obviously decades and years of certain behaviors, social and environmental issues, financial realities have contributed to a unique locale that has experienced escalating obesity statistics. So even as monies are allocated to battle obesity, it will take time to see results and to appreciate what efforts work well and which do not impact the overweight populace. Some encouraging signs according to Ms. Strom include local storekeepers in low-income neighborhoods starting to carry plastic tubs of fresh fruit, while there is clear evidence of newly constructed walking pavements. The first bike path was constructed thanks to funds from the Robert Woods Foundation, some lower income areas received small "pocket parks," and there has been an effort to improve traffic patterns and to create safer sidewalks. Community gardens are also being accessed by schools, encouraging kids to begin to understand where food comes from.
And the mayor has stepped in with his own effort called, the Mayor's Healthy Hometown Movement, to engage the city's many agencies to sign on and help reverse the obesity trend in Louisville. One new effort was to label an exact mile on many routes to encourage people to "go the mile." The transit authority has added bike racks to bus fronts, federal and private monies are subsidizing 100 mile walking and biking loops and the YMCA is helping local grocers to add more fresh fruit and vegetable selections to their produce areas.
In Louisville Kentucky the battle waging against obesity is being fought one step at a time.
Published On: June 21, 2011