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KC Chamber Launches Metro Health Improvement Campaign

Alex Smith

Kansas City has been making a lot of lists lately, recognized by various national websites and newspapers as a top entrepreneurial city and a great town for millennials.

But other lists show Kansas City in a less impressive light when it comes to health, revealing high rates of obesity and smoking, among other health indicators.

Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jim Heeter says it’s time to change that.

“What we want to do is get off the list of ‘fattest cities in America’ and get on the list of ‘fittest cities in America,” Heeter says.

Heeter was one of several business and civic leaders who introduced the chamber’s new Healthy KC program Thursday morning at the chamber’s Union Station boardroom.

In partnership with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City, the chamber aims to encourage employers and individuals to improve health in five areas: active living, behavioral health, healthy eating, tobacco use prevention and cessation, and workplace wellness.

Heeter says Healthy KC fits in with the Chamber’s mission of improving the city overall. But he says it’s also good business.

“Healthy employees are, frankly, better employees,” Heeter says. “They’re more efficient, and they contribute more to their employer.”

The chamber began developing Healthy KC in August of 2013 with the help of more than 100 health, business and community leaders. A commission of 16 of these leaders will guide the program.

Among its goals:

  • Reducing the ‘food desert’ problem by increasing healthy food access
  • Hiking tobacco product taxes and and raising the age of sale to 21 
  • Creating trackable  "challenges" to promote physical activity
  • Increasing access to mental health resources

The program also calls for employers to promote employee health through workplace wellness initiatives.

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