Mayor Chris Beutler today announced a five-year challenge to the community to make healthy living a top priority. He said the problem of obesity has huge ramifications for individuals and for society and called on young people and adults to improve their health with more physical activity and better food choices.
"While life expectancy in this country has increased to an all-time high, the quality of life has not increased along with these extended years, and chronic diseases are a major factor," Beutler said. "These diseases are preventable or can be delayed by making good health choices and by teaching our children to make good choices. The common denominators in most chronic diseases are obesity and physical inactivity. We rightfully focus much attention on the prevention of childhood obesity, but we also must focus on adults because it's never too late to start making healthier choices. Even small changes can make a big difference."
The Mayor's challenge includes five goals to reach by 2018:
The current percentages are from the most recent local data from the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department (LLCHD). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, chronic illnesses account for 70 percent of deaths and at least 75 percent of health care costs in the U.S.
"This challenge requires agency cooperation as well as individual responsibility," Beutler said. "My challenge is aggressive, but by working together, I believe we can achieve our goals. Five years from now, I want to be able to say to you that we have made progress on becoming the healthiest city in the nation. When we worked together, we were able to reduce tobacco use. We can use that same approach to urge residents to be more active, to make healthy food choices and to lower our obesity rates."
On July 10, Mayor Beutler was one of a group of a mayors from around the country invited by the National League of Cities and the White House to discuss how mayors can help reverse rising obesity rates. The Mayor was invited because of Lincoln's designation as a Let's Move! City and the community's focus on healthy living. Let's Move! is First Lady Michelle Obama's obesity prevention initiative.
The Mayor has appointed Anna Wishart, a member of the Lincoln Airport Authority, as his local representative for the Let's Move! Cities campaign. Wishart is a member of the GO Team, made up of local organizations dedicated to health improvement. The GO Team promotes the health messages of the 5-4-3-2-1-Go! childhood obesity prevention program - 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day; 4 servings of water a day; 3 servings of low-fat dairy a day; 2 or less hours of screen time a day; and 1 or more hour of physical activity a day. The LLCHD recently expanded its 5-4-3-2-1-Go! program with a two-year grant from the Maternal Child Health Division of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.