NEW ORLEANS, LA—Today, Mayor Mitch Landrieu and City Health Commissioner Dr. Karen DeSalvo unveiled the City’s comprehensive plan to achieve healthy weight and fitness for everyone in New Orleans. The effort has been branded “Fit NOLA.” Through this initiative, the City of New Orleans will focus on becoming one of the ten fittest cities in the United States by 2018.
“The unveiling of the Fit NOLA partnership is an extremely powerful step in the right direction for all residents of New Orleans, but we must now make and encourage the right choices that will make us a healthier community,” said Mayor Landrieu. “New Orleans is a special place with robust cultural and culinary flare. We love to dance, sing and eat, but we can engage in all those things that we love in a responsible way. Childhood obesity rates in our country are increasing due to unhealthy life choices and these choices often lead to obesity related health problems that are avoidable.”
Landrieu continued, “As a city we want to promote healthier decisions and more opportunities to make healthy decisions. The reason Fit NOLA is so important is because it is a comprehensive initiative that will focus on health and wellness by addressing food intake and physical activity as well as lifestyle choices. This commitment will help us towards our goal of being one of the fittest cities in America by our 300th birthday. It is imperative that we all do our part in creating a healthier lifestyle and environment for our children and for all future generations.”
In January 2011, the City of New Orleans was designated as a Let’s Move! city as part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s childhood obesity reduction initiative. Fit NOLA is the City of New Orleans’ plan to foster and create a healthier and more active city by bringing together a diverse group of leaders devoted to solving this critical public health challenge.
The City, in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, established a framework to engage stakeholders to openly discuss challenges, existing assets, and how to move forward to eliminate childhood obesity and create a healthier New Orleans. Over 100 organizations, ranging from Fortune 500 Companies to start-up not-for-profits have participated in a number of meetings, including 3 public forums, 6 strategic planning sessions and 4 steering committee meetings. Fit NOLA partners helped determine evaluation methods that will be used to measure success.
"To achieve our goal of being a fit city, everyone will need to get involved and commit to making available and choosing healthier food and safe physical activity. This important effort will take everyone's commitment and will save lives, improve health and opportunity for our children” said Dr. Karen DeSalvo, City Health Commissioner. “This comprehensive partnership is all about being nutritionally and physically fit across the lifespan. The City is committed to doing its part to increase the availability of healthy, nutritious food and safe opportunities for a more active lifestyle."
The Fit NOLA partnership will focus its work by:
• Increasing Awareness: Resources for families and the community to be fit, and empower youth to be advocates for healthy policies
• Building Capacity: Improve access to affordable, nutritious food; Safe environments for physical activity; and opportunities to exercise; Strengthen the Fit NOLA partnership
• Setting Standards: Highlight successful programs and policies; Develop employee wellness programs; Health care professionals to help patients improve fitness; Support policies encouraging healthy lifestyles
“The Fit NOLA partnership has created an unprecedented space for youth voice in a citywide public health initiative,” said Thena Robinson-Mock, Executive Director of Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools. “The Rethinkers are honored to partner with Fit NOLA to help shape programs that will improve the health and wellness of young people both inside and outside of the classroom.”
“Commitment to quality of life for all New Orleanians has been a priority of this administration. All of us who work every day to make New Orleans better, safer, cleaner, and healthier understand that all of our initiatives are linked and that a healthier City is a better city,” said Vic Richard, CEO of the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission. “Fit NOLA is a great example of what can be achieved through meaningful and strategic collaboration.”
City Council President Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson said, “New Orleans is proud to join many other cities under the leadership of First Lady Michelle Obama with our leadership of Mayor Landrieu and Health Commissioner Dr. DeSalvo to become one of the most fit cities in America by our 300th birthday in 2018.”
In the spirit of Fit NOLA’s aim to encourage good public health policy decisions, today Mayor Landrieu also issued an Executive Order that develops and implements a standard for healthier foods and beverages in the vending and concession options at City-owned parks and facilities. A more detailed Chief Administrative Office memorandum will be issued in the near future to require that all City contracts with vending companies include language specifying the provision of healthy options.
“In order for New Orleanians to make healthier decisions, we have to make healthier options available. This is why we are moving to change vending machine policies in City- owned facilities,” said Mayor Landrieu.
Download The Fit NOLA Action Blueprint and Fit NOLA Flyer.
For more information, please visit the New Orleans Health Department at http://www.nola.gov/RESIDENTS/Health-Department/.