Book Chronicles City's Health Changes

By
Fred Kight

Dateline
Updated Mon, Mar 12, 2012 3:03 pm

At one time The Centers for Disease Control declared Huntington, W.Va., the fattest city in America. But residents there are changing the way they relate to food and exercise.

The book "Winning the Food Fight" tells the story of that change.
 
"I call it a grass roots sort of effort, I mean, we still have problems. There is still a lot of obesity, but our rate of increase has slowed down," said Ken Walker of Huntington, co-author of the book. "There are a lot of things happening that are almost unnoticeable. For example, my son-in-law works at a hospital across the river in Ashland, Ky. Last summer, he lost 20 pounds because they were having a "Biggest Loser" competition at work, with a cash prize for the winning team," said Walker. "I would imagine a lot of folks who went through that didn't even recognize, you know, kind of the influence the Jamie Oliver mini-series and that whole thing. There's things like that going on, and you know honestly, I think it's going to take, I feel, 20 years to really measure the impact." 
 
Walker is an Ohio University graduate whose fellow co-author is Steve Willis, pastor of First Baptist Church of Kenova, W.Va. He and Willis each contributed equally to the book and went over each other's work. Walker would conduct interviews with subjects and then also interview Willis to get his feedback about a particular topic.  
   
The name Steve Willis may ring a bell. Probably because he had a role on Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, a six-week mini-series that aired on ABC-TV and won an Emmy award in 2010 for Best Reality Series.
 
"The week before the last episode aired, he was filming parts of it at Steve's church. While we were talking, I said 'what's your hardest, most difficult challenge you have?' and he said 'trying to answer all the e-mails and calls we've been getting' because he had been on Good Morning America and Larry King Live and you know, other shows and gotten back and had 2,000 emails."
 
Walker said that's when he realized Willis could probably write a book based on his experience and the feedback he received. It took about three months before the partnership formed and several months before a publishing contract was secured.  The book was published in January.  
 
Walker says Willis' passion led him to begin a national faith and fitness movement that is revolutionizing the way people think about food.
 
Walker says Willis wants to use healthy eating to bridge the huge gap between evangelicals and secular camps. 
 
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