The Washington Post

Cities Take Steps to Lighten Up

Mayors share their strategies for helping residents lose weight

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is proud of her city’s Baltimarket.

Obesity is a national health crisis, but the solution could be local. That was the message from the United States Conference of Mayors meeting at the Capital Hilton on Friday, where four leaders shared what they’d done to slim down their cities.

Some strategies focused on food access: Baltimore’s Stephanie Rawlings-Blake touted Baltimarket, an online ordering system that delivers groceries directly to libraries and public-housing sites, and Terry Bellamy of Asheville, N.C, talked up her city’s expansion of tailgate markets, aka farmers markets.

Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett challenged his constituents to lose a million pounds — and they did (over about four years). His plan for helping them lose even more? Leaving behind the city’s car-centric layout and building sidewalks, biking trails and a downtown park to create “a city that revolves around people.”

Then there was Greg Fischer, who’s managed to lure crowds of thousands to his “Hike, Bike & Paddle” events in Louisville, Ky.

Keeping their eyes on the size should improve these mayors’ chances with the new Healthy Communities Grant Program, which will award $1 million in Weight Watchers memberships to three cities. Winners will be announced in June.

Extra cash would help Rawlings-Blake with the big idea she’d like to enact: holiday bonuses for employees who lose 10 percent of their weight (or maintain a healthy weight).

Vicky Hallett is a MisFits columnist and the Fit editor for Express.

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