"Don't you call me names," says Philadelphia after being named the "fattest city."

What do you do when your city is dubbed “The Fattest City in America” by a national magazine? (Philadelphia was named “The Fattest City in America” by Men's Fitness magazine in its February 2000 issue.)

  • You go out and eat yet another Philly cheese steak (with a side order of tomato pie and a pretzel) and wallow in your national embarrassment.

  • You sit at the foot of the Art Museum (you don't actually run up the “Rocky” steps) and yell, “Yo, Philly, whaaas up…besides our weight?”

  • You get the newly elected mayor to appoint a Health and Fitness Czar, who assembles an entire organization of staffers, creates a fitness public relations committee, and enlists local businesses, community organizations and the city's NBA basketball team to join in the effort to clean up Philly's act/whittle down Philly's waistlines and create the Fun, Fit and Free Health Initiative.

One of the many key players spearheading Philadelphia's health initiative is the Gold's Gym of Conshohocken (a Philadelphia suburb). Teri Burke, owner of the Gold's Gym, sits on the fitness committee and has been instrumental in organizing local health fairs, fitness events and ongoing community activities where all residents and city employees can participate in the slim-down efforts.

On March 20, 2001, the Gold's Gym hosted the kickoff for the Philadelphia “76 Tons of Fun,” an event backed by the Philadelphia 76ers. This exciting event encouraged all Philly residents to loose a cumulative 76 tons of weight in 76 days. Many area businesses, hospitals, health clubs, community centers and stores are listed as weigh-in sites where people can pick up weekly motivational literature, get weighed in, participate in classes and activities, and receive encouragement throughout the 76-day event.

“Since the inception of Philly's health initiatives 12 months ago, there is now greater awareness about nutrition, exercise and healthy living and many opportunities for people of all walks of life to do something about these issues,” says Burke.

“We have received calls from many other cities and countries such as New York and Houston (which was named The Fattest City for 2001, since Philadelphia has dropped down to third place) Brazil and Italy, all wondering about the programs we are doing here. The eyes of the world are truly on us.”