If there’s a man coughing from smog, polluted water or emphysema, chances are he’s not in Burlington. This small college town in Northern Vermont was just named the healthiest city in the country based on a recent report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Raising the bar
Burlington has a low percentage of obesity, diabetes, and other illnesses, according to the America’s Health Rankings 2008 report. The reoport shows the components that went into determining which city is most suitable for the title.
The Ira Allen Chapel on the University of Vermont campus, is one of Burlington's most prominent landmarks.
(Photo by Cailey McDermott)
Health specialists look at four groups of determinants that can be affected. The groups include personal behaviors, community and environment, public and health programs and clinical care according to America’s Health Ranking, The health outcomes are then weighted based on these criteria.
The state of Vermont has also been named the healthiest state two years running.
Vermont has other positive statistics: since 1990 the prevalence of smoking has decreased by 43 percent and the state has increased its per capita public health funding by 49 percent.
“I’m delighted,” says Wendy Davis, commissioner for the Vermont Department of Health.
Exploring the great outdoors
With athletic clubs, nearby mountains and hiking trails, many people in Burlington are continually on the go. This translates to several outdoor programs and stores that promote physical activity, an awareness of the environment and healthy eating.
Local Motion on Steele Street is a program that promotes cycling, blading and walking. It also brings attention to healthy lifestyle changes, says Chapin Spencer, executive director of Local Motion.
Jake Hollendach, an employee at Ski Rack on Main Street says he feels the shop does its duty in gearing up customers.
The University of Vermont sailing team practices on Lake Champlain.
(Photo by Megan Davin)
“It’s nice to get some respect and show what Vermont and Burlington represent,” Hollendach says of the report's findings.
Non-local active customers will often turn to Ski Rack employees as a resource for outdoor happenings and activities around Burlington, Hollendach says.
A good portion of the population in the Burlington area is young adults, namely college and university students.
Students are often involved in varsity sports, clubs or activities on campus, or like Lee Bayner a senior at the University of Vermont, they could just simply be continually late to class.
“I do a lot of aggressive walking,” he says with a smile.
Who needs junk food anyway?
Burlington homes local co-op and organic health food stores as well as summer and winter farmer markets. City Market is one such store that promotes healthy living.
On the City Market/Onion River Co-Op Web site, it further promotes a healthy lifestyle. The customer can read about healthy, suitable eating and learn how to make their own healthy dishes at home.
“I like that this area is recognized, as a community we put a lot of effort into it,” says Nicole Fenton, marketing manager for City Market.
Christine Kucipeck, of Winooski, is among one of the 3,000 customers that City Market brings in.
“When you’re surrounded by healthy people and active people you’re more apt to be that way,” Kucipeck says.
Although the title of healthiest city is an accomplishment for the state, there are still worrisome statistics, Davis says.
Last fiscal year, City Market had about 1.3 million people walk through its doors, says marketing manager Nicole Fenton.
(Photo by Cailey McDermott)
For instance, Vermont has not improved its overall health.
“Binge drinking is where we don’t do as well,” Davis says. “That is an area we are continuing to target.”
Vermont ranked 38th in the country for the prevalence of binge drinking.
The Department of Health has a division, Alcohol and Drug Abuse Programs (ADAP), devoted to the issue, Davis says.
“People do look to Vermont in healthcare reform,” Davis says.
Adam Gray, an employee at the North Face store, says the report instilled in him a sense of awareness to be healthy.
“We’ve [Vermonters] always thought we were the healthiest,” Gray says. “Now there’s a study saying we are.”