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A tale of the tape: How waistlines differ in Richmond, Va. and Richmond, B.C.

Richmond, B.C. has Canada
Richmond, B.C. has Canada's lowest obesity rate, while Richmond, Virginia ranks as America’s second “fattest city.”
— image credit: Greg Vote photo/Metro Creative Services

Richmond residents are among the healthiest in Canada, but the situation in an American city with the same name stands in stark contrast.

According to results of a study published in the latest Newsweek magazine, Richmond, Virginia ranks as America’s second “fattest city.” Memphis, Tenn. holds the unflattering rank of No. 1.

Meanwhile, residents in Richmond, B.C. comprise Canada’s lowest obesity rate, and the city is marking the good health fortunes of locals tomorrow (May 10) at Move for Health Day at Minoru Park.

“Richmond is known for being one of the healthiest communities in Canada. Our residents, on average, live longer than anywhere else in the nation,” said Mayor Malcolm Brodie in a news release. “In Richmond, we all seem to share a passion for active lifestyles.”

In Richmond, Virginia, however, just 50.2 per cent of the population exercises and just 58.1 per cent regularly eat produce. That’s helped lead to an obesity rate of 29.4 per cent—six times that of Richmond, B.C.—and a diabetes rate of 9.9 per cent.

Newsweek used data from Gallup’s Well-Being Index—a comprehensive study of American health and happiness published early 2011—to rank more than 50 metro areas with populations with a population of more than one million.

Last year, a report from the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Canadian Institute for Health Information found just 5.3 per cent of Richmond, B.C.’s population is obese—compared to a nationwide average of about 25 per cent.

Physical activity, diet and ethnicity all played roles in Richmond’s statistics, the study’s authors noted, along with access to recreational facilities, food retailers and affordable nutritious foods.

The Child of the Fraser also leads Canada in life expectancy. The latest Statistics Canada study found local residents live an average of 83.4 years—four years longer than the national rate.

•The Move for Health Day runs from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Minoru Park, where local service providers will be hosting information booths. A walk with the mayor begins at 11:45 a.m. with a zumba demonstration. Local organizations are also invited to participate in the Move for Health Day Community Challenge. Every hour of physical activity on Thursday can be tallied and e-mailed to moveforhealth@richmond.ca for a chance to win prizes.

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