This week I dug into some public statistics on obesity rates and the percentage of Kansas City area residents in Jackson, Wyandotte, and Johnson Counties. I don't know why I was so alarmed because the national statistics are just as scary. In all three counties, the percentage of overweight or obese adults were at least 59% in all three counties. Johnson County had the lowest at 59%, followed by Jackson at 65% and Wyandotte County at a whopping 69%.
Rarely do you hear any of the local media addressing our city's extreme epidemic. Has it become socially acceptable to be overweight? With as much education that is available about the benefits of staying within a healthy BMI, people continue to make poor decisions when it comes to eating (it doesn't help that KC BBQ is a classic staple in our diets). After returning from a year of living and working as a trainer in NYC, I took notice of the changes I have made in my daily activities. Sometimes I drive a half mile away for a simple chore. Simply walking a half mile there and back would only cost me about 20 minutes of my time. In New York, I wouldn't dream of taking public transportation or even a cab to save that kind of time.
Living in a south KC suburb, sometimes walking down the sidewalk on a busy street sparks some interesting attention. People will often stare at me as though maybe I don't have access to a vehicle or am wandering aimlessly on the street as if I didn't live in the neighborhood. We are a high consumption society (food, material items, etc.) and this has become clear to me upon my moving back, especially when walking down the street makes me feel like an outsider.
Don't get me wrong. I feel like I have moved back to paradise after escaping the overworked and fast-paced environment of NYC, but I desperately want to inspire people to change their habits.
Here are some simple ways you can utilize daily to achieve a more active lifestyle in an effort to decrease our waistlines to help us become more healthy and productive citizens:
1. Park far away from a store's entrance.
2. Don't drive if your trip is less than a half mile away.
3. Order water or iced tea when you are out to eat and skip the sweetener!
4. Find a local restaurant you like that is within a walkable distance.
5. Sweat everyday.
6. Make an effort to get 10-15 minutes sunlight each day.
7. Start going to Farmer's Markets (they're fun!)
Now get to work Kansas City!