Fit NOLA campaign launches with healthy vending pledge

New Orleans becoming one of nation's fittest cities by 2018 is the goal of a new plan lead by the city's health advocates, educators, nonprofits and private businesses.

In late June, Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced the plan, created by the Fit NOLA Partnership, to help children, families and individuals achieve healthy weight and overall fitness. He also promised to sign an executive order to improve the healthfulness of vending machine foods and beverages sold on city government properties, including offices and parks.

"Sometimes when you get to that vending machine, you only have one choice. We want to give you more choices and we hope that you exercise making good choices," Landrieu said. "The city of New Orleans, we can lead by example, it's one of the things that we have to do."

Among the more than 100 organizations in the partnership is the Tulane Prevention Research Center (PRC), which also provided the mayor's office with information about vending machine policies and research from other cities and states that have changed their food and beverage options.

"The Tulane PRC looks forward to working with all of the Fit NOLA partners on transforming our neighborhoods to make healthy eating and physical activity easier choices for everyone," said Dr. Carolyn Johnson, director of the Tulane PRC. "Our research shows that when you offer people opportunities to be healthy – such as adding bike lanes to streets or providing healthier food options at schools – adults and children will take advantage of them."

The Fit NOLA Partnership was born out of a desire for everyone in New Orleans to be healthy and achieve the goal to move from No. 37 on the list of fit cities to within the top 10 cities, said New Orleans Health Commissioner Dr. Karen DeSalvo.

The Fit NOLA Partnership's strategies fall under three main goals: increasing awareness of available resources and the benefits of being healthy through a communications campaign and youth empowerment training; improving neighborhoods and schools so that people can have access to nutritious foods and opportunities to be physically active; and creating a set of Fit NOLA standards for businesses, government and health care professionals.

The June news conference to announce Fit NOLA’s plan included a dance routine from youth-based organization, Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools. The students pulled Landrieu into their routine.

To watch Mayor Mitch Landrieu's announcement, visit his YouTube channel.

To read the Fit NOLA Partnership Shared Action Blueprint, visit the New Orleans Health Department website.

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