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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Combating Obesity in Small Town, USA

As we blogged last week, income and health are tightly linked. It's easy to understand why: not only do the well-to-do enjoy access to high-quality health care and a plethora of healthy food options, but they are also more likely to live in neighborhoods with bike paths, walking trails, and the like.

In our office, we were just discussing how in upper northwest D.C., along Wisconsin Avenue, there is a Whole Foods every mile and a half or so. That's a far cry from what you'll find in other areas of the country -- or in other areas of Washington, D.C., for that matter.

The Washington Post recently profiled Manchester, Kentucky, a small town with a serious health crisis. Obesity rates in Clay County, where Manchester is located, are as high as 52 percent. According to one study, 41 percent of the Clay County population are in fair or poor health. The local pharmacist says that most of the medications she dispenses are for conditions brought on or aggravated by obesity.

One gentleman quoted in the article said he couldn't remember the last time he weighed himself. Believe it or not, one of our clients has the same problem -- a population where many workers don't have scales at home. After several individuals reported this fact to their health coach, we suggested that the company put scales in break rooms. This group has made tremendous progress through coaching, and providing scales would be a great way to support their efforts.

The scale of our nation's obesity epidemic may seem overwhelming, but I believe that small steps can make a huge difference -- even in a place like Manchester. If you're the mayor, why not work with the schools to promote health education? How about asking the health professionals in the area to give seminars on the effects of obesity? Whatever course you take, the most important thing is to begin!

So what do you think? If you were the mayor of Manchester, how would you approach the problem? I'd love to hear your ideas, so be sure to leave a comment below.


Anavar said...
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