Dear Mayor Dean,
I read with interest the Tennessean article about Nashville receiving a $7.5 million dollar grant to help fight obesity. In fact, I read the article twice. I wish I were optimistic that the spending of these dollars will help Nashvillians get healthier, but I feel cynical.
The dollars will be used to, among other things, build sidewalks so that children can walk safely to school, make healthy fruits more accessible, and install bike rental kiosks. The dollars will be used to pay 40 full time and 40 part time people to run the various programs.
Mr. Mayor, I used to carry around 76 additional pounds. I’m not yet at my healthiest weight but I’m on my way. Seventy-six pounds ago, I could afford all of the fruits and vegetables I wanted…even…gasp, organic. I had a YMCA membership I paid for each month and never used. I could afford a bicycle if I had wanted one.
Once I got sick and tired of being sick and tired, I began to make lifestyle changes…without the benefit of a government program or grant dollars. I am not alone. I am aware of another Nashvillian who blogs about her weight loss. She’s lost more than 100 pounds. I man at my YMCA has lost 100 pounds. Weight loss and good health can be achieved without a gym membership. And I am not aware of any grocery stores in Nashville that don’t carry fruits and vegetables.
Before spending one dime of grant money I strongly urge you to put together a panel of Nashvillians who have been successful at losing weight. That panel of experts can help design a program(s) that will educate the community and inspire those who chose to be inspired. Someone in your press office can service a press release asking for volunteers. We will read it and we will step forward to assist. Who better to help the obese than the formerly obese?
I hope my cynicism for this program is unfounded. I would love to be wrong about this. But I feel in my bones that I’m right. I will be pay close attention to this program and will be follow the results…not the results that report the number of sidewalks that were built or the number of bikes that were rented. The already fit citizens will also have access to those amenities so usage is not an indicator of success. Rather, I’ll be following data your office releases regarding obesity statistics.
And I will report the program’s success or failure on my blog.