Obesity is a problem. A big problem. It is affecting our youth at an alarming rate, and Mississippi may be the worst offender (“Americans living longer” 2009). Small steps may be Mississippi’s best bet at addressing the issue of obesity of its youth and adolescents (Gilson, McKenna, Puig-Ribera, Brown, & Burton, 2008). For New Albany, Mississippi, a community based walking program is a good first response, as it addresses, and can be accepted by, all social, economic, and cultural peoples.
One of the Healthy People 2010 Focus areas is nutrition and overweight issues (“A systematic approach,” 2009). On a national level, one in three citizens is obese (Americans living longer,” 2009). This issue is particularly concerning as it is affecting young people and adolescents at an alarming rate. In the rural towns of Mississippi, this is no exception (“Obesity and the African American,” 2009). Mississippians, on average, are larger and more stagnant than peoples of other states. A walking campaign has been chosen to begin to address the issue (Gibson, McKenna, Puig-Ribera, et al, 2008). The walking program is a good choice as they are not intimidating, and can be done by all peoples regardless of social, economic, or cultural factors (“Health enhancement systems,”, 2009)
School and community based walking programs has been chosen as a first step toward combating obesity for the New Albany, Mississippi area as they are not intimidating for most people to start, and can be funded with relative ease. Federal and state grants can be accessed to provide funding for the promotion and operation of walking events. School policies that limit unhealthy food choices and mandate activity and exercise minimums for its students can be implemented. Legislation that supports the policies of the schools, and offers additional funding for those schools and communities that engage in positive change can be used.
Further recommendations for changing the culture of Mississippi includes offering additional funding for townships that advance infrastructure. Bike paths, parks, and sports areas can be implemented with federal and state grant monies. Towns and city officials can further encourage healthy behavior by acting as advocates for exercise, healthy diets, and fitness related events. Local communities can excise further taxes on the products and behaviors it wishes to diminish.
The challenges of providing healthy information will be many. New Albany’s response to the issue has got to be expansive as the problem has been made worse by other factors (Novick, Morrow, & Mays, 2008). Health promotion includes educational materials and information that helps to make sound decisions (Hammond, 2009). The population has to be able to read to learn. and Mississippi has the highest illiteracy rate in the country. Written materials may not be an affective means of information transfer. Alternative medias will have to be employed. In addition, Mississippi’s hot and humid weather is another hurdle (Lofton, 2008). Staying active in hot weather conditions is difficult if not potentially dangerous. Finally, starting with an obese population, Mississippi already has a strike against it as the obese usually suffer from more negative health issues (“Americans living longer,” 2005). This too makes starting an exercise program difficult.
New Albany has attempted to identify specific objectives to address this concern based on the findings of its review of national, state, and community data (Novick, Morrow, & Mays, 2008). New Albany is addressing the issue on a local scale, but the implications spread further. On a national and global level, a healthy workforce is needed to compete. Companies desire to locate business and jobs in areas where a healthy workforce exists (Gilson, McKenna, Puig-Ribera, 2005). If New Albany, and Mississippi wish to remain competitive in the future, a healthy work force has got to be present.
The CDC provides information regarding health and disease prevention to enhance health decisions by the public (Hammond, 2009). On a local level, health promotion is done by the county departments of health, and by local departments of the federally support Woman’s, Infants, and Children’s departments, known as WIC (“Health enhancement systems,” 2009). WIC provides education, nutritional counseling, and access to quality foods for mothers and children under the age of five (Novick, Morrow, & Mays, 2008). Local hospitals can be encouraged to assist in the promotion of healthy events, and also act as sources of first hand knowledge of the health of a communities citizens.
Local, state, and federal data support the notion that Mississippi’s youth has an obesity problem (Lofton, 2008). Geographically, culturally, and economically diverse populations can all be engaged at some level in a walking program as the starting point for healthier trends in behavior (“Health enhancement systems,” 2009). Federal and state grants can be accessed to ease the financial burden of starting and continuing such programs. Health policies and legislation can be enacted to promote healthy choices and lifestyles. Challenges of illiteracy, weather, and current poor health status will be difficult, but not impossible. Using available CDC, state, and county data will help managers make decisions on the ground, and anticipate future trends. Walking is not an exercise program that will intimidate new-comers to exercise, and already has teams of veteran supporters. It is important for Mississippi to take steps to improve its health, and a walking program can be its first step. New Albany intends to lead the way.
Walking Mississippi-A Suggested Health Campaign Against Obesity
Health Campaign- Walking Mississippi James Pullman
Walking Mississippi Lean <ul><li>Mississippi is the most obese state in the Union. </li></ul><ul><li>The bar on activity is pretty low. </li></ul><ul><li>First programs must be non-offensive. </li></ul><ul><li>First programs must be inexpensive (Mississippi is one of the poorest states in the nation.). </li></ul><ul><li>Everyone and every culture can walk. </li></ul>
Recommended Approaches <ul><li>Walking programs to be initiated by local schools and county health departments under the guidance of State health agencies. </li></ul><ul><li>Funding to those communities that host events on a timely basis. </li></ul><ul><li>Laws that dictate a minimum amount of activity at school. </li></ul><ul><li>Removal of non-healthy snacks from schools. </li></ul>
Further Recommendations <ul><li>Funding to those townships that advance bike paths and lanes. </li></ul><ul><li>Social marketing programs to encourage townships to improve parks and recreation that will fuel healthy lifestyles. </li></ul><ul><li>Increased taxation on foods that are fattening. </li></ul>
Challenges <ul><li>High population of illiteracy in State will make getting the message to population difficult. </li></ul><ul><li>The weather makes outdoor activity difficult in summer months. </li></ul><ul><li>Higher incidence of disease amongst the obese. Healthier state will have less medical costs. </li></ul>
Nationally/Globally <ul><li>To be competitive on a national and global level, we need a fit work force. </li></ul><ul><li>Location of factories and jobs nationally will go to those areas that can supply fitting people for the labor force. </li></ul>
Data Models <ul><li>Data provided by the CDC can be used to trend and help make decisions regarding future trends. </li></ul><ul><li>On a local level, State and county health departments can be accessed for regional and local information. </li></ul><ul><li>Local hospitals can have a finger to the pulse of the wellness of a community as well. </li></ul>
Conclusion <ul><li>Small steps are needed to get started. </li></ul><ul><li>Using local, state, and national health departments and information can be used to trend, promote, and encourage healthier habits. </li></ul><ul><li>Walking is a program that can be done by all peoples and cultures. </li></ul><ul><li>It is time for Mississippi to take the first step. </li></ul>
References <ul><li>“ Americans Living Longer, But Not for Long (Special Report).” (Mar. 2005). Encyclopedia. World News Service, retrieved on October 20, 2009 from http://www.2facts.com/article/xn11 . </li></ul><ul><li>“ A systematic approach to health improvement,” (2009). Healthy People 2010. Retrieved on October 10, 2009 from http://www.healthypeople.gov/document/html/uih/uih_2.htm </li></ul><ul><li>Hammond, R.A. (2009). Complex systems for modeling obesity research. Preventing Chronic Disease. (6)3. </li></ul><ul><li>Gilson, N., McKenna, J., Puig-Ribera, A., Brown, W., and Burton, N. (2008). The international universities walking project: employee step counts, sitting times and health status. International Journal of Workplace Health Management. 1(3): pp. 152-161. </li></ul>
<ul><li>“ Health enhancement systems; New walking program website inspires Americans to step out and step up to better health,” (Oct. 3, 2009). Obesity, Fitness, & Wellness Week. P. 2372. </li></ul><ul><li>Lofton, L. (2008, October 27). Rural healthcare challenges abound in communities around state. Mississippi Business Journal. 30(43), pB7-B11. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Northwest middle school let’s go walking highlights’” (Oct16-22, 2008). Jackson Link. 15(42):p.13. </li></ul><ul><li>Novick, L.F., Morrow, C.B., and Mays, G.P. (2008). Public health administration: Principles for population-based management, (2nd ed.) . Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett, Inc. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Obesity and the African-American adolescent in Mississippi: Overview,” (January, 2005). Southern Medical Journal. 98(1): 72-78. </li></ul>