Lynchburg, VA – According to a new Gallup survey, Lynchburg is one of the cities with the best “overall well-being” in the United States. This ranking comes less than four years after the Hill City graced the top ten list of most obese cities in the U.S.
“To hear this today was just the icing on the cake for me” said Joan Foster. And it was the icing, maybe on the Angel Food cake.
Foster was mayor in 2010, when her city had a wakeup call.
“We were the 8th most obese region, region, in America, and many of us just couldn’t believe it” she said.
33% of the Hill City population, according to a Gallup Survey, was obese.
“All of us just made a promise, we’re going to do something about this and we didn’t stand around and talk a lot about it, we got moving” she said.
In 2011 Foster founded Live Healthy Lynchburg, a collaborative effort between city officials, the health department, and other local organizations to cripple obesity, and put Lynchburg a top a new ranking. Since, Lynchburg residents have lost more than 12 tons of body weight, they’ve run and walked thousands of miles and health has become a focal point for city officials.
Fast forward, and today, Lynchburg is ranked tenth by Gallup, in overall well-being among small American cities.
“It’s becoming our culture and I love that” said Foster.
The ranking takes into account exercise, healthy eating, daily stress, and obesity, down 11% from 2010.
“There is no question that Live Healthy Lynchburg had an impact on this” said Christine Kennedy.
Kennedy of the Lynchburg Regional Chamber of Commerce spearheaded “Work healthy Lynchburg,” an effort to have the business community promote healthy living in the work place.
“It doesn’t help to have that on a billboard across the United States that we were an obese city. We wanted a ranking like what we got today that showed we are a healthy place to live we’re a happy place to live and you should want to move your family here and you should want to relocate your business here” she said.
Lynchburg joins the ranks of Burlington, Vermont and Billings, Montana. The only other Virginia small city to grace the top ten list was Charlottesville, coming in at number nine. Full results of the survey can be found here.