A group of individuals from various local organizations met Thursday afternoon at the Tift County Extension Office to discuss ways to prevent and reduce adult and childhood obesity.
Dr. Raymond Moreno with Affinity and Family and Consumer Sciences Agent Roxie Price with the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension are spearheading this initiative. Under the direction of Moreno, Charlotte Bedell, chair of the Tift County Board of Health, met with Price about the initiative. Price said she is in charge of hosting and organizing everything for the group.
“For me, the spark that got me losing weight was a casual comment from my six-year-old granddaughter, Eva: ‘Papa, you’re fat,’” Moreno said, as the crowd smiled and chuckled.
He continued, “America is fat and America is getting fatter. This is both a medical emergency, as well as a national security emergency. As a country, we spend billions of unnecessary dollars each year on obesity-related diseases, many of which are preventable — preventable through a healthy lifestyle that includes eating healthy foods and regular physical activity.”
He explained that obesity is largely responsible for many of the diseases that many people suffer from, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, heart attacks, strokes, arthritis and even many forms of cancer. He said obesity also affects a person’s sense of well-being and self-esteem. He added obesity negatively impacts an individual’s and their families personal finances, the community, state and national finances.
“We spend a lot of money treating obesity-related diseases, but not nearly as much in trying to prevent obesity-related diseases,” Moreno said.
He said in the future, there needs to be a shift from treatment to prevention through national initiatives and at the grassroots level.
According to the 2013 County Health Rankings, Tift County ranks 104th out of 159 counties in Georgia in health behaviors, which includes adult smoking, adult obesity, physical inactivity, excessive drinking, motor vehicle crash death rate, sexually transmitted infections and teen birth rate. The current national benchmark for adult obesity is 25 percent. Georgia’s rate is 28 percent and Tift County’s rate is 33 percent.
Price said, “We do have a problem.”
She said there are some things being done already in the community to help prevent and reduce adult and childhood obesity, including several health fairs, lighted walking tracks, Zumba classes, fitness programs, senior exercise classes, educational material on how to fight obesity and schools have improved their menus.
“We’re making an impact,” she said.
By the end of the meeting, the group decided to create a Facebook page with information on helping Tifton to become a healthier community. They plan to call the initiative “Healthy Tifton.”
To contact reporter Latasha Everson, call 382-4321.