Lincoln, Neb., is a city whose leaders are committed to a creating a Culture of Health across all sectors. Residents are becoming more physically active and eating healthier, and the city reported a decline in obesity rates among both school-age children and adult employees of local businesses from 2010 to 2013.

Physical Education classes at Fredstrom Elementary.
Children having fun on a climbing wall during physical education class at Fredstrom Elementary School in Lincoln, Neb.
Children exercise during a physical education class.
Children take a physical activity break in the classroom at Fredstrom Elementary School in Lincoln, Neb.

The Partnership for a Healthy Lincoln is a coalition dedicated to making healthy choices easier, through innovative efforts and programs like:

  • A healthy beverage initiative, including a “Rethink Your Drink” public service campaign and an effort to encourage employers to stock, promote and competitively price healthy beverage options;
  • The Lincoln Public Schools Wellness office, which focuses on changing policies and practices to improve students’ health and fitness and is overseen by a full-time wellness facilitator;
  • A community-wide initiative providing education and support to pregnant and breastfeeding moms; and
  • Community engagement programs, like “Fit by 2015,” an effort to reduce the number of obese children in Lincoln’s elementary and middle schools to below 15 percent by the 2015-2016 school year and Streets Alive, an annual outdoor “moving festival” featuring events like a farmers’ market and a celebration of cycling.
Three boys select healthy foods in an elementary school cafeteria lunch line.
A variety of fresh fruits and vegetables are on the menu at Fredstrom Elementary School in Lincoln, Neb.
Children participate in a yoga class.
Children practice yoga at an after-school program at the Malone Community Center in Lincoln, Neb.

Other highlights of Lincoln’s all-hands-on-deck approach to obesity prevention include:

  • Workplace wellness programs adopted by city businesses have reported a decline in obesity rates among participating employees.
  • Lincoln became an early champion of Let’s Move! Cities, Towns, and Counties after adopting the 54321GO childhood obesity prevention program in 2013. The program emphasizes good nutrition, adequate physical activity and minimal screen time.
  • The city health department sponsors a Summer Food Service Program, which provides healthy summer meals to children from low-income families.
Children take part in a swim practice.
Children take a swimming class at the YMCA in Lincoln, Neb.

In 2013, Mayor Chris Beutler issued a five-year “Community Health Challenge,” to make healthy living a top priority and to work toward becoming the healthiest city in the nation. The city’s trailblazing efforts represent some big steps in the right direction.

Students use exercise bikes in a library.
Students using stationary bicycles in the library at Scott Middle School in Lincoln, Neb.
Children exercise at school.
Students at Scott Middle School in Lincoln, Neb., get moving in physical education class.

Originally posted on February 5, 2015.

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