In 2007, Mayor Mick Cornett challenged Oklahoma City to lose one million pounds. The challenge, “ This City is Going On A Diet,” was in response to the growing rates of obesity, which placed Oklahoma City consistently amongst the top ten of the most obese cities in the United States. Obesity in the U.S. has reached epidemic proportions, with approximately 35 percent of women and 31 percent of men considered to be dangerously overweight. Every year, health conditions resulting from obesity, such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, cause over $150 billion and approximately 300,000 deaths in the U.S. Topping the list of top ten most obese cities alarmed Cornett and spurred him into action – to instate a culture of preventive care to make his city healthy and thriving. Cornett stated, “We were just in denial, pretending that if we ignore obesity it’ll go away on its own.” The Mayor created a site and a program to follow that sought to promote a healthier lifestyle for its citizens who would be able to track their individual and group weight loss progress. More than 47,000 people signed up, or about one-third of the city’s obese population. The city essentially redesigned its way of life with restaurants and local business participating with lifestyle tips, discounts, and low-calorie menu options tied to the campaign. Oklahoma City was also able to raise taxes to “fund $917 million worth of public improvements aimed at advancing community health, fitness, and quality of life.” However, it was not only motivation that was necessary to revolutionize the Oklahoma City lifestyle. The city itself was designed primarily for commuters. There were many streets and thoroughfares, but few open spaces, bike paths, or parks to encourage activity. In fact, private developers had no requirement to plan for sidewalks for years. In 2008, Oklahoma City was named the “Worst Walking City” in America by Prevention magazine. In 2009, Cornett began to plan a redesign of the city. After a referendum, the city approved a 1 cent sales tax with a goal of raising $777 million. Plans for the redesign included a 70-acre downtown park, hundreds of miles of sidewalks and hiking trails, a streetcar system, health and wellness centers, bike lanes, gardens, dog parks, etc. “The culture of the community has shifted,” states Cornett. In January 2012, Oklahoma City reached its milestone: One million pounds lost as a community. Cornett sees health as a foundation for growth, “Jobs follow people. People don’t follow jobs.” With an unemployment rate of less than 4.5 percent, multiple cities have looked to Oklahoma City as an example and have taken note of its success. According to the Center for Disease Control, healthier communities are more productive on average at work or school. “Preventing disease increases productivity – asthma, high blood pressure, smoking and obesity each reduce annual productivity by between $200 and $440 per person.” Empowering a community to make healthy choices has resounding affects. Investments in preventive healthcare, like that seen by Oklahoma City, are cost-effective, reduce health care costs, and improve productivity. For more information on preventive health and Oklahoma City’s innovative approach, visit This City is Going on a Diet.