Outside the Westport Bubble

Graphic by Bryan Schiavone '13

When students participating in the second annual Staples Spectacular Student Challenge received this year’s topic, many were surprised to find themselves tackling the issue of obesity. After all, Connecticut is ranked the second least obese state in the country, with an obesity rate of 21.4 percent of its population. By comparison, the fattest state in America is Mississippi with 35.3 percent of its residents.

Even though Connecticut’s rates are relatively low in comparison to those of the country, obesity rates are still higher than they have been the past. 21 percent means that approximately 1 in every 5 people are still obese; this is a significant number and this trend does not seem to be slowing down in the future.

By avoiding fast foods, high-calorie drinks, and excessive portion sizes, Connecticut residents can decrease the state’s obesity rate. Participating in physical activities is also essential to maintaining overall health.

Furthermore, although Westport’s own Fairfield County is one of the thinnest in America, there are still numerous obese residents in low-income areas. In Bridgeport, for example, the obesity rate for preschoolers is twice the nation’s average. Local groups should reach out to close communities with higher obesity rates to provide them with the resources they need to reduce their numbers. Westport’s Green Village Initiative (GVI) has already taken steps to curb Bridgeport’s rate by planting local gardens to provide its residents with homegrown produce.

Other groups and individuals should take cues from GVI to help each other live healthy lifestyles and reduce obesity rates across the nation. Even though Connecticut is not in the worst of situations, it can still make improvements to decrease its obesity rate in the future.