Category: Featured Programs

Building a Healthier Chicago!

ACSM has been proud to work with Assistant Surgeon General Dr. James M. Galloway in the early years of the ACSM American Fitness Index. Dr. Galloway spoke about the importance of the data report to the Building a Healthier Chicago! initiative upon the launch of the program in 2008.

Building a Healthier Chicago! is a collaborative endeavor between the American Medical Association, the Chicago Department of Public Health, and the Office of the Regional Health Administrator of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Region V.

The goal of the campaign is to improve the health of Chicago’s residents and employees through the integration of existing and new public health, medicine and community health activities.

The campaign involves several programs including:

  • F.I.T. City: A restaurant initiative to develop and promote F.I.T. (Fresh, Innovative, and Tasty) menu options through partnerships with restaurants, chefs, culinary schools, health advocates, and community groups.
  • Focus Community: Specific program to help the Austin community, located on Chicago’s west side, gain access to healthy foods. Austin is the most densely populated community within Chicago, but has no chain supermarket thus residents have limited access to healthy foods. Parts of Austin have even been designated as “food deserts.”
  • Building a Healthier Chicago’s Agribusiness: A project aimed to set up markets in food deserts to give residents access to affordable fruits and vegetables. The program worked with the DePaul University Graduate School of Business to create a simple market concept- sell food for a dollar each – two apples for a dollar, four potatoes for a dollar, etc.
  • “Federal Employees: Active and Healthy…Working Well”: A worksite wellness program for federal employees aimed to improve the culture of the city’s federal workplaces to encourage employee wellness through healthy eating, and various physical activities.

Chicago ranked 28th in the most recent ACSM American Fitness Index® () data report, which evaluates the 50 most populous city areas and identifies the healthiest and fittest places in the United States. The metro area earned a score of 48.9 (out of 100 possible points) in 2011.

The metro area ranked 34th on personal health indicators related to health behaviors, chronic health problems and health care, and 21st on community/environmental indicators related to the built environment, recreational facilities, park-related expenditures, physical education requirements and primary health care providers.

Pertinent to Building a Healthier Chicago, only 22.5% of the population reports eating 5+ servings of fruits/vegetables a day. However, the area has an above average number of farmers’ markets (17.7/1,000,000).

Building a Healthier Chicago! operates under the Social Ecological Model, which acknowledges how environmental factors impact the decisions people make. This model combines these multiple perspectives and promotes a healthy environment/lifestyle suited for the social space in which people live, eat, work and play.

For more information, please visit:

Building a Healthier Chicago

Oklahoma City’s Wellness Now Initiative

From time to time, we like to highlight community initiatives and programs that are making a difference. Wellness Now is a community-led initiative in Oklahoma City, Okla., aimed at addressing the city’s health problems. Oklahoma City ranked 50th in the most recent ACSM American Fitness Index® () data report, which evaluates the 50 most populous city areas and identifies the healthiest and fittest places in the United States. The metro area earned a score of 24.6 (out of 100 possible points) in 2011.

Oklahoma City struggles with a wide variety of health problems including obesity and tobacco use, both of which are contributors to heart disease, diabetes and other chronic illnesses. The study reports 28.6% of the city’s population being obese and 22.8% currently smoking. As a result, the city ranks 50th in personal health indicators with a score of 15.6.

Wellness Now, started in April of 2010, is a collaboration between nearly 100 community partners including schools, health care professionals, elected officials from all levels of government, faith-based and community-based organizations, and private sector companies all dedicated to making necessary changes in order to create a healthy community. In addition to the program’s partners, Wellness Now relies heavily on people in the neighborhoods to participate in surveys and community forums.

The program is chaired by Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett and County Commission Chairman Ray Vaughn, and addresses the following public health priority areas:

  • Obesity
  • Mental Health
  • School Health
  • Senior Health
  • Tobacco Use Prevention
  • Obstacles to Health
  • Maternal & Child Health
  • Chronic Disease

For example, the program aims to increase access to and consumption of healthy, safe and affordable food, encourage physical activity, and promote local ordinances requiring 100% smoke-free workplaces. For more examples on specific actions for each of the above mentioned public health priority areas, check out

For more information on Wellness Now, visit or