Thursday, May 28, 2009

America's Fittest Cities

“When it comes to healthy living, Washington, D.C., is seldom mentioned in the same breath as cities like San Francisco, Portland, Ore., and Seattle, all of which are known for their active, health-conscious residents. But according to a new report, the city of pomp and politics is the healthiest in the nation. [...] Research has shown that investments in preventative health care can have financial rewards. A 2008 report issued by the nonprofit organization Trust for America's Health found that spending $10 per person on proven programs like smoking cessation and physical activity could save $16 billion annually in health costs. The money to pay for these programs may come from the fittest city, Washington, D.C. Despite the recession, which has led to municipal budget-cutting in cities across the country, this year's stimulus act includes $650 million for ‘evidence-based clinical and community-based prevention and wellness strategies.’ A spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services said that how the stimulus money will be spent or distributed has yet to be determined, but that a decision should be forthcoming in the next several weeks. That's perfect timing for cities at the bottom of the AFI ranking, since they now know where money needs to be spent. It's up to them, however, to take advantage. ‘The [index] is meant to build awareness of how residents must take personal responsibility for their health and get involved in their own community,’ says Thompson.”

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