31.2% of the people in this community are defined as Obese and this does not include those who are overweight. A recent Gallup survey, related to the Well-Being index, from July 22 of this year shows that the Heart Attack Rates Double in Low-Wellbeing Metro Areas - Average of 5.5% in metros with lowest wellbeing have had heart attack. The Hickory Metro is ranked as the 5th lowest Metro area in the country in relation to Gallup's Well-Being study. In the survey on Obesity, we are the 19th most obese metropolitan area in the nation with 31.2% of the residents of this area defined as obese. Our community is the lowest ranked metro in North Carolina when it comes to obesity and also physical activity.
We need an Agenda on Health and Wellness. "Wellness Well Crafted" would encourage, not mandate, healthy lifestyles. We do this by creating programming and opportunities to exercise, eat right, create personal health goals, and preventative care that are user friendly and can be maintained through the various stages of life.
We talk about people having a negative outlook in the community. Healthy people tend to have better mental attitudes. That is a fact. When you take away opportunities for people to be active and lead healthy lifestyles and turn a blind eye towards people leading unhealthy lifestyles, then it leads to what we have here in Hickory. Parks, Greenways, and recreation programming need to become a key component of this wellness agenda.
According to an article from the Live Science Website entitled The Skinniest and Fattest US Cities Revealed - Jeanna Bryner, LiveScience Managing Editor - March 07, 2012
Supporting an abundance of research linking obesity with a long list of health ailments, those living in the 10 most obese areas were much more likely, compared with the skinniest cities, to report chronic diseases, including diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and depression, at some point in their lives. For instance, compared with people living in the lowest-obesity cities, residents of the most obese areas were 70 percent more likely to report diabetes, 58 percent more likely to have had a heart attack, 30 percent more likely to report a diagnosis of depression, and 23 percent more likely to report high cholesterol, Gallup noted. [Infographic: Diabetes & Obesity in US]We are paying a price for not seriously investing in the community's health. You can read the above and see that serious investment in fitness pays for itself many times over. And yet, over the past decade we have seen recreational and fitness facilities/opportunities reduced and destructed. Exercise and Recreation should be more than afterthoughts in a city budget.
Obesity not only plagues the individual, it can also drain Americans' wallets, with the National Institutes of Health estimating the average incremental health-care cost for an obese person is $1,429 every year. With that number, Gallup estimates that in the 10 metro areas with the highest obesity rates, Americans cumulatively pay about $1 billion more in annual health-care costs than if those states had obesity rates of 15 percent.
For example, the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission metro area pays more than $400 million in unnecessary health-care costs each year because of its high obesity rate. If it reduced the obesity rate to 15 percent, the area could potentially save more than $250 million annually, Gallup estimates.
There are direct links that show that Health Disparities Across Incomes Are Wide-Ranging (Gallup - October 18, 2010); comparing those making less than $24,000 per year versus those with more income. Those in the lower income strata have greater chances of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart attack, asthma, cancer, depression...
Those with more wealth do not seem to understand that the overall physical health of the community, as a whole, affects the economic health of the community and thus their own individual personal well-being. These are investments well worth making.