The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), with support from the WellPoint Foundation, unveiled its seventh annual American Fitness Index® () data report during the organization’s annual meeting. The 2014 data report, “Health and Community Fitness Status of the 50 Largest Metropolitan Areas,” reflects a composite of preventive health behaviors, levels of chronic disease conditions, and community resources and policies that support physical activity.
Capturing the top ranking is the Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) of Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV, with a score of 77.3 (out of 100 possible points).
The 2014 edition of the data report uses revised methods from the first six full-edition reports released from 2008 to 2013. New variables, including each community’s Walk Score ranking,have been added or modified and some variables have been removed to improve and enhance the 2014 data report. Consequently, comparisons of scores, sub-scores and rankings for 2014 should not be made with earlier reports. Benchmarks for each data indicator, which were added in 2013, highlight specific areas for improvement.
“Health advocates and community leaders have come to expect the arrival of the American Fitness Index as an annual check-up regarding their community’s health and fitness levels,” said Walter Thompson, Ph.D., FACSM, chair of the Advisory Board. “The data report is a snapshot of the state of health in the community and an evaluation of the infrastructure, community assets and policies that encourage healthy and fit lifestyles. These measures directly affect quality of life in our country’s urban areas.”
To assist with measurement and to provide a baseline measure of health and fitness status, ACSM worked with the Indiana University School of Family Medicine and a panel of 26 health and physical activity experts on the methodology of the data report. Researchers analyzed the data gleaned from U.S. Census data, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), The Trust for the Public Land City Park Facts and other existing research data in order to give a scientific, accurate snapshot of the health and fitness status at a metropolitan level.
The data examined fall into two categories: 1) personal health indicators and 2) community and environmental indicators.
Targeted Technical Assistance at the Local Level
In 2013, ACSM received a $157,782 grant from the WellPoint Foundation to present this year’s data report and to work with community organizations in Cincinnati, Las Vegas and Miami throughout 2014 to initiate locally driven health improvement efforts. By translating key data from the report, ACSM will provide technical assistance to these priority metro areas, which were selected based on local opportunity and interest.
A previous grant from the WellPoint Foundation in 2011 enabled ACSM to pilot technical assistance efforts in Indianapolis and Oklahoma City. This led to initiatives such as “Top 10 by 2025,” a vision to make Indianapolis one of the top 10 healthiest communities in the U.S. by 2025, and Wellness Now, a plan to improve the health and wellness of Oklahoma City and County.
“As the founding sponsor, WellPoint Foundation is proud to provide continuing support for the ACSM American Fitness Index and its healthy lifestyle measurement and improvement endeavors,” said Lance Chrisman, executive director of the WellPoint Foundation. “The technical assistance program identifies actionable areas with the best evidence for improving health, focuses on doing the most good for the most residents – with a high priority on underserved populations – and works to make a community-wide impact quickly.”
The technical assistance project is an integral part of an overall evaluation plan for to determine what key health indicators for communities can be effectively modified. WellPoint Foundation’s support for ACSM, the report and technical assistance program is part of its continuing commitment to address health disparities and improve public health across the country.
Through its State Health Index – a state-by-state compilation of public health measures – and Healthy Generations program, the WellPoint Foundation works to identify the issues most in need of attention and then directs its charitable support and volunteer efforts toward improving health in those areas. Reducing cardiac mortality rates, promoting active lifestyles and addressing the long-term health threats posed by childhood obesity are major focus areas of the foundation.
The metropolitan rankings in the 2014 report are:
||Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.
||San Francisco, Calif.
||San Jose, Calif.
||San Diego, Calif.
||Salt Lake City, Utah
||Los Angeles, Calif.
||Virginia Beach, Va.
||New York, N.Y.
||Kansas City, Mo.
||Las Vegas, Nev.
||New Orleans, La.
||St. Louis, Mo.
||San Antonio, Texas
||Oklahoma City, Okla.
*Scores have been rounded to the nearest tenth of a point, resulting in some apparent ties; however, the rankings are based on the full, calculated scores that were not equal in those cases.
About the American College of Sports Medicine
The American College of Sports Medicine is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. More than 50,000 international, national and regional members are dedicated to advancing and integrating scientific research to provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine.
About the WellPoint Foundation
The WellPoint Foundation is the philanthropic arm of WellPoint, Inc. and through charitable contributions and programs, the Foundation promotes the inherent commitment of WellPoint, Inc. to enhance the health and well-being of individuals and families in communities that WellPoint, Inc. and its affiliated health plans serve. The Foundation focuses its funding on strategic initiatives that address and provide innovative solutions to health care challenges, as well as promoting the Healthy Generations Program, a multi-generational initiative that targets specific disease states and medical conditions. These disease states and medical conditions include: prenatal care in the first trimester, low birth weight babies, cardiac morbidity rates, long term activities that decrease obesity and increase physical activity, diabetes prevalence in adult populations, adult pneumococcal and influenza vaccinations and smoking cessation. The Foundation also coordinates the company’s year-round Associate Giving program which provides a 50 percent match of associates’ campaign pledges, as well as its Volunteer Time Off and Dollars for Doers community service programs. To learn more about the WellPoint Foundation, please visit www.wellpointfoundation.org and its blog at http://wellpointfoundation.tumblr.com.
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