Produced by Jessie Shafer | Written by Hope S. Warshaw, RD, CDE Photos by Kathryn Gamble | Beauty styling by Mary-Kate Gales
New Ulm, Minnesota, is a quaint small city a couple hours south of Minneapolis and populated by about 14,000 people, many of German ancestry. "Our German heritage put beer, brats, and butter on the menu too often, widened our waistlines, and escalated our heart disease risk factors," says Rebecca Fliszar, RD, a community dietitian.
But in 2008, the town leaders decided to do something that would impact New Ulm and its residents for years to come. They designated their community's health as a top priority and began taking action by installing sidewalks and parks. At the same time, Kevin Graham, M.D., former cardiologist and president at the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation, and Dick Pettingill, former CEO of Allina Health System, who both knew coronary artery disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and worldwide, were planning a long-term community project to reduce risk factors for heart disease and, ultimately, reduce incidences of heart attacks. To implement the project, they were looking for a community that was ready and willing to change.
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