Arlington Wants to Shed "Fast-Food Addict" Stigma

City launches health education program to help residents eat better

By Kristi Nelson
|  Monday, May 17, 2010  |  Updated 7:53 PM CDT
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Arlington Wants to Shed "Fast-Food Addict" Stigma

Arlington may be the king of fast food, but the city is vowing to get in shape.

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A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Men's Health magazine had named Arlington residents the most obese in the nation. The magazine ranked Arlington No. 1 out of America's top 100 fast-food towns. However, Arlington was ranked No. 54 in the magazine's list of the country's fattest cities. NBC DFW regrets the error.

Arlington may be the king of fast food, but the city is vowing to get in shape.

Last year, Men's Health magazine ranked Arlington the most fast-food addicted town in the United States after tallying up a formula that included fast food and vegetable consumption. In the list of 100 cities, Fort Worth was ranked 17 and Dallas was ranked 37.

"It’s just showing that we’re not getting any exercise, and we’re just overeating," said Joni Killen, a dietitian with Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital. "And I do see a lot of people eating fast food on the run.”

Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital has teamed up with the city of Arlington and United Healthcare for a six-month health initiative designed to help city residents make healthier choices.

The Choose Health program begins May 22 with monthly classes centered on wellness, nutrition and exercise education. Topics include foods that prevent cancer, losing 10 pounds in 10 weeks, reading food labels and navigating the grocery store. Participants pay $5 per class. People who enroll in all six classes will receive one free class, a pedometer and a healthy living guide.

Arlington's high ranking in the fast-food addicts list was based on the number of fast food restaurants per capita, the percentage of people who visit fast food restaurants, the areas where people consume fast food seven or more times a month and the obesity statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Despite its preference for fast food, Arlington doesn't weigh in as the fattest city in America. In rankings of the nation's fattest cities, Arlington came in at No. 54, far below fellow North Texas city Dallas (No. 4).

Arlington residents can register for Choose Health online at www.naturallyfun.org or by calling the city's Parks and Recreation Department at 817-459-5474.

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