The city, along with three others in the South, will participate in the Municipal Leadership for Healthy Southern Cities project. Each community will get help advancing policies that promote healthy eating and active lifestyles, thereby reducing childhood obesity.
Childhood obesity now plagues an estimated 23 million American children, with Mississippi children most at risk. More than 44 percent of Magnolia State kids are considered overweight or obese, versus 31 percent nationwide, according to the National Survey for Children’s Health.
“I am excited to be recognized by the NLC as one of the top ... cities in the South tackling healthy city issues,” Mayor Jack Reed Jr. said in a written statement to the Daily Journal. “This recognition affirms our current efforts and inspires us to build upon them.”
Reed has made health a top issue in his administration and formed a task force to advise and promote healthy lifestyles in the city.
This initiative attracted the attention of the NLC, said Lisa Sharma, a senior associate for its Institute for Youth, Education and Families.
“One of the things that really impressed us about Tupelo, Mississippi, was Mayor Reed’s commitment to the cause,” Sharma said. “He ran on a platform of making Tupelo the healthiest in the state, and that struck us as very strong.”
With help from the project, Tupelo will alter its code to create a more walkable community and revamp its website to include more information about recreational opportunities and healthier food choices, the NLC press release said.
In addition to Tupelo, the communities of Little Rock, Ark., North Little Rock, Ark., and Baton Rouge, La., were selected to participate.
The project is sponsored by the NLC, the Foundation for the Mid South and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.