On July 31, The San Antonio Metropolitan Health District (Metro Health) announced that the obesity rate in San Antonio and Bexar County plunged from 35.1 percent to 28.5 percent between 2010 and 2012. This means that 70,000 adult men and women are no longer obese, having moved into healthier weight categories.
Obesity is a common risk factor for premature death and disability in the United States. Over the same two-year period, statewide Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Surveys (BRFSS) data showed a less dramatic decrease in obesity from 31.8 percent to 29.3 percent, demonstrating that San Antonio is now fitter than most of Texas. The declining obesity rate in San Antonio also was paralleled by an increase in the healthy weight proportion of the population from 31.2 percent to 35.4 percent.
“People are getting more active and living healthier in San Antonio, whether it's walking, cycling or using our parks,” Mayor Julián Castro said. “We now have concrete evidence that our investments are paying off and positively impacting the health of our families and the overall quality of life in San Antonio.”
The source of these data are the enhanced BRFSS conducted at the beginning and end of the $15.6 million Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CCPW) obesity prevention grant received by Metro Health.
“The reduction in obesity is very encouraging and once again demonstrates that ‘si, se puede.’ Nevertheless, we have a long way to go especially for those of lower income and education and the elderly,” said Dr. Thomas Schlenker, director of Metro Health.
Metro Health partnered with the City of San Antonio Departments for Parks and Recreation, Planning, Public Works, Library, Office of Sustainability and the Mayor’s Fitness Council, as well as the Bexar County Health Collaborative, San Antonio Housing Authority, YMCA, SA Sports, UTSA, the University of Texas School of Public Health and local school districts to apply CPPW funds in a variety of ways to increase physical activity and improve nutrition. CPPW initiatives include Siclovia, 108 salad bars in schools, ride-to-own bikes, Fitness in the Park classes, SPARKS parks and other shared-used facilities.
Simultaneously, with other funding, the San Antonio River Mission Reach was inaugurated, the B-cycle bike share program was created, Por Vida dining was embraced by restaurants and Greenway Trails were extended.
“San Antonio residents are becoming more physically active and are living healthier lifestyles,” said City Manager Sheryl Sculley. “We are making initial strides in the right direction, and are proud of the City programs and initiatives that provide access to resources for families to improve overall quality of life.”
The survey showed greatest improvements among middle class Hispanics with some post high school education. However, all sectors of the community, segmented by age, gender, race/ethnicity and geography, moved toward greater fitness, with the exception of those over 65. Obesity rates among seniors may be on the rise.
BRFSS is a periodic, standardized, nationwide survey carried out by the U.S.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Locally, the survey was enhanced by tripling the standard sample size to more accurately document any changes over the time period of the Metro Health CPPW grant. Approximately 1,500 people were surveyed by telephone in Bexar County in 2010 and 2012 using standardized questions and methods.