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The Partnership for a Fit Kentucky and the Shaping Kentucky’s Future Collaborative have released a report addressing the state’s growing obesity epidemic, detailing multiple examples of local strategies to combat inactive lifestyles and build healthier communities.
A “Community Guide to Reducing Obesity” tells the stories of 17 school and community projects that aim to make a dent in the obesity epidemic.
“In schools and communities all across the Commonwealth, Kentuckians are banding together in innovative ways to make healthy eating and regular physical activity a way of life in the places where we live, learn, work, play and pray,” said Elaine Russell coordinator for Kentucky Obesity Prevention Program in the Department for Public Health (DPH) and a member of the Partnership for a Fit Kentucky. “Obesity is fast becoming the most serious threat to Kentucky’s health.”
In national rankings of overweight and obese children, Kentucky is third highest of all 50 states, and sixth in the rankings of overweight and obese adults. Health care costs attributable to obesity in Kentucky will reach an estimated $2.3 billion in 2013, according to Trust for America’s Health’s Bending the Obesity Cost Curve report.
“Obesity is an obstacle to education, economic development and the better quality of life we all want,” said Dr. Steve Davis, acting DPH commissioner. “Yet we struggle to get our citizens and communities engaged in solutions to the problem. This report makes it easy by providing everyday concepts for building healthier communities.”
Locations in the report range from Hopkinsville, Louisville and Booneville to Lexington, Covington and Science Hill and include concepts as simple as mowing a path for a community walking trail to worksite wellness programs.
Anita Courtney, a consultant for the Shaping Kentucky’s Future Collaborative, acknowledged it will be years before the obesity epidemic is completely reversed – but it is possible.
“The task is daunting,” she said. “The important thing is to start fighting back whenever and wherever possible. Our report shows that Kentuckians are doing just that.”
Chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain forms of cancer, which are all linked to obesity, are extremely high in Kentucky. Courtney said implementing initiatives like those found in the report could be the key to lowering rates of degenerative disease.
“It will be a success when one of the stories it tells inspires another Kentuckian to say, ‘If people can do that in Buckhorn, Lexington, Covington and Hopkinsville, we can do it here,’” she said.
Shaping Kentucky’s Future “A Community Guide to Reducing Obesity/Local Success Stories” is available for download at fitky.org.
For more information about the report and Kentucky’s obesity epidemic, please contact Elaine Russell at email@example.com 502-564-9358.