ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Shrinking America’s Waistline: The Economic and Social Benefits of Lifestyle Changes

Updated on October 26, 2009

A combination of healthy foods and regular exercise will add years to your life. That is what the experts have been saying for years. And yet, their warnings and words of encouragement continue to fall on deaf ears. America is still fat and getting fatter, diabetes and heart disease are still among the top killers in the country, and French fries keep on selling at an alarming rate. McDonald’s alone sells over 3 billion servings of fries annually or nearly ten servings per person in the United States every year.

In 2008, 25% of adults in thirty-two states were obese. In six of those states, over 30% of adults were obese. In all, approximately 64% of Americans fall into the overweight category. Obesity is a leading cause of many chronic and often fatal health problems and diseases. The fatter America gets, the more it is going to pay for health care and insurance. It is not only a wellness issue; it is an economic disaster. In the United States, health care costs are over one third more for overweight and obese individuals than for people of normal, healthy weight, adding over $730 to yearly medical expenses for each American.

Although the government is fully aware of the high health, economic and social costs of an overweight nation, its hands are tied when it comes to doing anything about it. At the most basic level, obesity and the decision to lose weight are individual choices. All the scary fat facts and government funded fitness programs will be worthless until Americans decide to get busy with the business of getting fit.

The Vitality Project

The residents of Albert Lea, Minnesota have addressed the problem of obesity as a community with a city wide effort dubbed the Vitality Project. About 2,300 residents of this Mid-Western town have increased their life span by an estimated 3.1 years. To make it happen, the city rushed through a five year sidewalk and bicycle path building project to make exercise easier for the 18,000 residents. Schools organized walking buses so that children could safely walk to and from school. Employers began giving workers time off to exercise, and people started walking to and from work.

The town’s radical lifestyle change also included nutritional choices. Fatty snacks and sweet treats were replaced with fruits and vegetables. People ate less fast food; many gave up red meat, while others went entirely vegetarian or vegan. Most importantly, the people worked together to lose weight and become healthier.

The Vitality Project in Albert Lea is a model of what can happen when a group of people come together to implement healthy change. People lost weight, and as a result feel better and will live longer. They will spend less on health care and lose fewer work days to illness. Children were taught the importance of healthy nutrition and regular exercise. If the pattern continues, these kids will lead healthier, more productive adult lives, and most likely raise healthier children themselves. Each of them will decide, as we all do, whether or not to continue with their new lifestyles. For Albert Lea, the decision to shed pounds and get fit is a community supported project that will benefit the health, social structure and economy of the community well into the future.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Big Papa G profile image

      Big Papa G 

      6 years ago from Fayetteville, Arkansas

      Julie - looks like we're writing about similar topics. Check out my story: How a Sedentary Middle-Aged Guy Lost 37 Pounds in 8 Weeks


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)