AMERICAN MOSAIC #812 - Philadelphia Weight-Loss Campaign

By Nancy Steinbach


John Street is the mayor of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He recently launched an unusual campaign. It is not about politics, but health.He wants Philadelphia's people to live healthier lives. Shep O'Neal explains.


More than a year ago, Men's Fitness magazine called Philadelphia the fattest city in America. That was because the people of Philadelphia had high rates of diabetes and heart disease. They also weighed too much. Mayor Street decided that he could help change the situation. He hired a health expert to develop ways that would influence people to eat better and get more exercise.

In February, the city government joined forces with the owner of the city's professional basketball team, the Philadelphia Seventy-Sixers.They asked the people of Philadelphia to lose seventy-six tons of fat in seventy-six days.

The city government created programs to help. Volunteers have been going around the city to weigh people and urge them to lose weight.Free exercise programs were created in all parts of the city. Memberships in exercise clubs cost less for people taking part in the program.And city workers say the mayor's program has started people talking about fitness and thinking about what they eat.

The new health program has a web site that gives ideas about how to lose weight. These include drinking more water, increasing physical activity and eating more fruits and vegetables. The web site says some foods can help people lose weight. These include foods high in fiber and vegetable protein like breads, cereals, beans, nuts and soy products. Another way to lose weight is to eat more food during the day than at night. Experts say to eat meals five hours apart and drink water in between.

The new health campaign already has shown some success. Men's Fitness magazine now says Philadelphia is no longer the fattest city in America. It is the third fattest. The magazine now says the fattest city is Houston, Texas. We do not know what Houston's mayor plans to do about that!

Voice of America Special English