We didn’t realize we needed an Obesity Correspondent at FishbowlNY, but Men’s Fitness Editor-in-Chief Neal Boulton has volunteered for the position, and we figured, what the hell. Our network’s been down all morning, our feature didn’t get published until an hour ago, and we can’t find that stupid back issue of that stupid magazine we were looking for. Neal Boulton wants to write about fat people? Sure, why not. (Citizens of Houston: Neal will be descending upon your fair city on Friday for a press conference with your mayor. Drop by and say hi.)
So here we go:
ONE MAGAZINE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE
By Neal T. Boulton
It’s hard to break through in America, to get your message a fair hearing. We’re bombarded every day with conflicting advice on everything, so much so that it’s easy to just glaze over and move on without taking any action. But that’s not my style; I’ve always had an intense compassion for folks who didn’t have what I have-motivation and drive.
When you look around, we Americans are both the most driven and the most stubborn of people. And stubborn is killing this country where obesity is concerned. It’s an issue I’m using Men’s Fitness magazine’s annual “America’s Fittest & Fattest Cities” report to combat.
Americans are the hardest-working people on the planet, but during those hardest-working hours, we’re usually faced with bad choices: Main Street America is an outdoor food court, longer hours and commute times means less fitness and more drive-thrus, and grocery shopping is usually a hunt for “convenience foods” marketed as healthy yet filled with all kinds of weight-gaining agents.
America will always be a car country, and who could imagine a landscape devoid of the golden arches or any of its cousins? But too often, zoning in communities allows the number of fast-food restaurants to exceed its population’s needs, while health care, air quality, nutritionally balanced school lunches, and access to outdoor spaces are often low priorities-directly limiting a community’s ability to slim down.
So this year I did something different with our “Fittest & Fattest Cities” story: I turned it into a full-blown campaign and took fitness and nutrition tips to the fattest cities across the country (literally in a V8/Men’s Fitness 18-wheeler), instead of simply “pointing fingers.” I’m directly challenging the “fattest” cities’ mayors in op/ed pieces and on national TV to start drafting “obesity policies” that could begin helping their communities.
To my surprise, the move got results. In fact, Houston mayor Bill White and I will be holding a press conference today in Houston (this year’s fattest city) to address some of his ambitious efforts to remedy obesity.
I will also be presenting the mayor with a leadership award, because in a short amount of time, Mayor White has started to attack poor air quality and expand roads to cut down on commute times. He’s also added enough miles to Houston’s bike paths that they exceed those of any city in the country. But most impressive is how Mayor White is completely overhauling school lunches, finally ensuring a more nutritious diet for Houston’s children.
Men’s Fitness can’t take credit for all of this, but one magazine can be a catalyst for significant change. And that’s why I encourage all of my magazine colleagues to join the “march” of their choice.
You just may find yourself changing this country.