Dr. Walter Thompson, a regents professor at Georgia State University and the chairman of the ACSM advisory board, said that poor-ranking cities see a confluence of negative health indicators, such as lax public smoking laws, low per-capita spending on parks and recreation, and high percentages of obesity.
“They need someone pointing out where they can make substantial change,” Thompson said. “Sometimes you need someone from outside looking at this globally.”
Thompson added that officials from Oklahoma take the ACSM study seriously and have consulted with the association to improve the health of the city. Actions taken include implementing more farmers’ markets in the city center, improving park maintenance and access, and challenging citizens to lose weight through public initiatives.
The study gives Oklahoma City a roadmap toward a healthier population. Whether city officials and residents choose to follow the direction remains to be seen.
—By Sean McCoy