The Memphis metropolitan area was the only one ranked lower than Louisville. The Louisville metro area includes Jefferson County and eight surrounding counties in Kentucky and four in Indiana.
“There surely is a lot of room for improvement,” Dr. Jonathan Becker, a sports medicine specialist at University of Louisville Family Medicine and KentuckyOne Health, told Ungar. “We need to be moving more, eating less and smoking less.”
The Washington, D.C., area claimed the top spot as the nation’s fittest, rising above Minneapolis-St. Paul, the winner for the last three years.
The negative scores on the index just kept adding up for Louisville, falling way below the targeted fitness index in areas such as smoking, federal aerobic-activity guidelines and the amount of fruits and vegetables consumed per day, Ungar reports. Louisville also had higher levels of disease than the targeted goals for asthma, diabetes and obesity.
“I’m not surprised, based on what I’ve seen,” Patrice Fife, a certified fitness instructor for the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health & Wellness, told Ungar. She said diabetes in the region is “rampant.” Overeating is a real problem, and people need to learn more about proper nutrition and portion control, she said: “They need to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables.”
City officials and fitness advocates pointed to Louisville’s efforts to improve the region’s fitness, including programs that bring fresh fruits and vegetables into “food deserts,” a ban on smoking ban in public places and expanded smoking-cessation classes. Louisville has also unveiled a plan to curb trans fats in local foods, expand outdoor smoke-free areas and prohibit idling vehicles when air quality is poor, among other things, Ungar notes.
Steve Tarver, chief executive officer of the YMCA of Greater Louisville, told Ungar, “It has taken decades for the Louisville region to become so unhealthy, and it will take a long-term commitment to get healthier. He said it will involve complex issues such as reducing racial and economic health inequities.” (Read more)