The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), with support from the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation, is expanding the ACSM American Fitness Index® () Technical Assistance Program to Cincinnati. Working with the Cincinnati Health Department’s Creating Healthy Communities Coalition (CHCC), ACSM unveiled a comprehensive strategic plan today that will guide the Cincinnati metro area toward improved health and fitness outcomes.

The technical assistance program is based on findings from the annual data report, which provides a health status snapshot of the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the United States.

“Since the first data report in 2008, Cincinnati has consistently scored well for community resources and policies that support physical activity,” said Walt Thompson, PhD, FACSM. “Just as consistently, however, area residents rank poorly on preventive health behaviors and prevalence of chronic disease conditions.”

This year, Cincinnati ranked 18th overall and third in community/environmental indicators, but ranked only 41st in personal health indicators. This dichotomy prompted the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation to invest in Cincinnati. In 2013, ACSM received a $157,782 grant from Anthem’s parent company foundation to use this year’s data report and work with community organizations in Cincinnati and other markets to initiate locally driven health improvement efforts.

To create the strategic plan, ACSM worked with CHCC and a community leadership team to conduct a root cause analysis and community survey to identify areas within Cincinnati that have the greatest need for improvement. The priority areas identified are:

  • Percentage of population eating healthy food is too low;
  • Percentage of population being physically active is too low;
  • Percentage of population with chronic disease is too high and percentage of population managing their chronic conditions is too low;
  • Percentage of population using tobacco is too high.

“There is a strong commitment to make the City of Cincinnati a place where each and every resident can achieve their optimal state of health and well-being,” said Denisha Porter, director of health promotion and worksite wellness for the Cincinnati Health Department. “Change will occur through a multi-sector approach in which all stakeholders are engaged, empowered, and encouraged to build a culture of health.”

CHCC will be responsible for implementation of the strategic plan and report its successes back to ACSM. CHCC will also publish an annual report on the plan’s progress and convene annual community meetings. The introduction of the plan also presents an opportunity for more organizations to work together and to make a collective impact on Cincinnati’s health and fitness.

“We’re proud to make an investment in Cincinnati as part of our continuing commitment to address health disparities and improve public health across the country,” said Erin Hoeflinger, President of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Ohio. “The technical assistance program allows ACSM to lend its expertise in identifying actionable areas with the best evidence for improving health and fitness at the community level and aims to expedite a community-wide impact.”

A previous grant from the Anthem’s parent company foundation in 2011 enabled ACSM to pilot technical assistance efforts in Indianapolis and Oklahoma City. This led to initiatives such as Top 10 coalition, a vision to make Indianapolis one of the top 10 healthiest communities in the U.S. by 2025, and Wellness Now, a plan to improve the health and wellness of Oklahoma City and County.

About the American College of Sports Medicine

The American College of Sports Medicine is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. More than 50,000 international, national and regional members are dedicated to advancing and integrating scientific research to provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine.

About the Creating Healthy Communities Coalition

The goal of the Cincinnati Health Department’s Creating Healthy Communities Coalition is to encourage environmental, policy and systems changes in the community, worksite, school and health care settings to improve nutrition, increase physical activity, promote tobacco cessation and provide chronic disease prevention education.

The CHCC vision is to prevent disease by inspiring individuals and organizations to collectively engage Cincinnatians in an environment that makes healthy living accessible, popular, and fun. CHCC’s mission is to inspire and energize all Cincinnatian’s health and well-being through creative, fun, and innovative collaboration to create a collective impact. This will be accomplished by addressing healthy eating, active living, tobacco free living, and other relevant health issues to prevent disease.

About Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation

Through charitable grant making, the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation LLC, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, promotes Anthem’s inherent commitment to enhance the health and well-being of individuals and families in communities that Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield serves. The Foundation focuses its funding on strategic initiatives that address and provide innovative solutions to health care challenges, as well as promoting the Healthy Generations Program, a multi-generational initiative that targets specific disease states and medical conditions. These include: prenatal care in the first trimester, low birth weight babies, cardiac morbidity rates, long term activities that decrease obesity and increase physical activity, diabetes prevalence in adult populations, adult pneumococcal and influenza vaccinations and smoking cessation. The Foundation also coordinates the company’s year-round Associate Giving Program and its parent foundation provides a 50 percent match of associates’ pledges, as well as its Volunteer Time Off and Dollars for Doers community service programs. ®ANTHEM is a registered trademark of Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield names and symbols are registered marks of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.