According to the survey, 37.8 percent of Evansville's population is obese. That's more than one in three people. Absorb that shocker for a moment: more than one in three!
That means the starting line-up for every Evansville high school basketball team has two obese members. So much for the fast break. It also means three members of every Evansville Little League team probably can't go from first to third on a hit-and-run. Maybe they should call it a hit-and-waddle, instead? And forget about the city's football wide receivers running the fly pattern. Maybe they rename it the slug?
I'm joking, but Evansville's obesity is a sad, sick joke. And, since the odds are good that residents aren't going to be giving up their Big Macs and supersized fries anytime soon, why not embrace a huge marketing opportunity?
For starters, I'd change the city's nickname to Obeseville, USA. I'd advertise plus-sized friendly theme parks, movie theatres and public transportation. And, since weight-challenged folks are also supposed to be jolly, why not host a comedy festival? And, I'd do away with any and all overt signs of fitness or wellness (i.e. cover over hiking, jogging and bicycle trails, close down health clubs, etc.).
I think Evansville has a chance to do something very special here. It can simultaneously become synonymous with heft AND, a la Xerox and Google, become a verb ("You Evansvilling me with that extra cheese?”).
City fathers should challenge local chefs to come up with a signature cheeseburger to mark their accomplishment. I'd call it the 37 Special. The branding opportunities are as limitless as the waistlines are large.
Here's one final thought: Evansville should challenge residents of America's fittest city, Boulder, Colorado, (where a mere 12.9 percent of the population is obese). They should engage in a multi-event competition that would favor neither town but still capture the imagination of a recession-weary populace (i.e. A 26.2 marathon followed by a Nathan's Famous type hot dog eating contest). How cool would it be to see which city would come out on top? Of course, there's an excellent chance that one in every three Evansville competitors might keel over from a massive heart attack during even the most sedentary event but, hey, what better way to die than in the service of one's home town?
So, don't hide your collective heads in shame, Evansville. Take a deep breath, let out that 48-inch belt a little more and embrace what you, and you alone can own: the unrivaled claim to being America's fattest city!
Carpe diem, Evansville. Carpe diem.