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'Eat Smart, Move More' Targets Obesity

By Doug Boyd

Agencies, schools, businesses, health care professionals and others will have to work together to help turn the tide of obesity, according to a plan released in Raleigh with authors from East Carolina University.

“Eat Smart, Move More: North Carolina’s Plan to Prevent Overweight, Obesity and Related Chronic Diseases” is a five-year set of goals and strategies designed to help people and organizations address overweight and obesity in their communities and create policies and environments supportive of healthful eating and physical activity.

“Through these strategies, we can all come together to create a North Carolina where healthy eating and physical activity are the norm rather than the exception,” said Dr. Kathryn Kolasa, a registered dietitian and professor of family medicine at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, who helped write the plan. “Working together we can create a North Carolina where adults and children of all ages and abilities eat smart and move more wherever they live, learn, work, play and pray.”

The Healthier North Carolina Summit, held at N.C. State University’s Mc-Kimmon Center, also released the Eat Smart, Move More county profiles, which highlight successes in obesity prevention and emphasize the need for more to be done in each of the state’s 100 counties. The day-long conference of state and national leaders and experts working to fight obesity was hosted by Trust for America’s Health and the North Carolina Division of Public Health in partnership with Healthy Carolinians.

“We have already made progress in Pitt County,” Kolasa said. “Leaders at the hospital, ECU, Pitt County Schools, the county health department and many private companies are making changes to make it easier for employees, staff and students to eat smart and move more when away from home. We have and need strong collaborative efforts, but this is no single agency’s problem or responsibility. There is still more to do.”  

In Pitt County, nearly 31 percent of adults are obese, according to the 2005 state Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey. Another 34 percent are overweight, while one-third are at a healthy weight. In 2005, approximately $503,000 in county Medicaid funds and $2.8 million in state Medicaid funds were spent on conditions attributable to overweight and obesity, according to the county profile.

According to Trust for America’s Health, Mississippi is the nation’s heaviest state, with 29.5 percent of adults termed obese. Colorado has the lowest percentage of obese adults at 16.9 percent. North Carolina ranks 17th.

The federal government equates obesity with a body mass index of at least 30. Someone who is 5-feet-4 would have to weigh 175 pounds to reach that threshold.

A video filmed in Greenville and played at the summit highlighted efforts in Pitt County to reduce overweight and obesity among children. It featured Dr. David Collier, assistant professor of pediatrics and co-director of the ECU Pediatric Healthy Weight and Treatment Center; Dr. Tate Holbrook of Children’s Health Services; Jim Cox, coordinator of the Pitt County Memorial Hospital Pediatric Healthy Weight Case Management Program; ECU dietitian Sarah Henes; and exercise physiologist Allison Spain of the ViQuest Center, part of University Health Systems of Eastern Carolina.

The specific goals of Eat Smart, Move More’s five-year plan are to increase healthy eating and physical activity, increase the percentage of North Carolinians who are at a healthy weight, increase the percentage of North Carolinians who consume a healthy diet and increase the percentage of adults and children age 2 and up who get recommended amounts of physical activity.

More information is available at www.EatSmartMoveMoreNC.com.

4/23/07
This page originally appeared in the Oct. 6, 2006 issue of Pieces of Eight. Complete issue is archived at http://www.ecu.edu/news/poe/Arch.cfm.