Lincoln, Neb., is a city whose leaders are committed to a creating a Culture of Health across all sectors—and it shows. Residents are becoming more physically active and eating healthier, and obesity rates are declining among both school-age children and adult employees of local businesses.
The Partnership for a Healthy Lincoln is a coalition dedicated to making healthy choices easier, through innovative efforts and programs like:
- A healthy beverage initiative, including a “Rethink Your Drink” public service campaign and an effort to encourage employers to stock, promote and competitively price healthy beverage options;
- The Lincoln Public Schools Wellness office, which focuses on changing policies and practices to improve students’ health and fitness and is overseen by a full-time wellness facilitator;
- A community-wide initiative providing education and support to pregnant and breastfeeding moms; and
- Community engagement programs, like “Fit by 2015,” an effort to reduce the number of obese children in Lincoln’s elementary and middle schools to below 15 percent by the 2015-2016 school year and Streets Alive, an annual outdoor “moving festival” featuring events like a farmers’ market and a celebration of cycling.
Other highlights of Lincoln’s all-hands-on-deck approach to obesity prevention include:
- Workplace wellness programs adopted by city businesses have reported declining obesity rates among participating employees.
- Lincoln became an early champion of Let’s Move! Cities, Towns, and Counties after adopting the 54321GO childhood obesity prevention program in 2013. The program emphasizes good nutrition, adequate physical activity and minimal screen time.
- The city health department sponsors a Summer Food Service Program, which provides healthy summer meals to children from low-income families.
In 2013, Mayor Chris Beutler issued a five-year “Community Health Challenge,” to make healthy living a top priority and to work toward becoming the healthiest city in the nation. The city’s trailblazing efforts represent some big steps in the right direction.