by Christie Gomez
When it comes to preventable causes of death in the United States, obesity and smoking top the list. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 66 percent of adults in the United States are overweight, with more than 35 percent categorized as obese.
At this time, no state has met the nation's Healthy People 2010 goal to lower obesity prevalence to 15 percent. Instead, the exact opposite has happened. As of 2010, the number of states with an obesity prevalence of 30 percent or more grew to 12 states, one of which was South Carolina at 31.5 percent.
City of Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr., presented the Lowcountry with a challenge to address this issue March 26. It's not an easy challenge, but it's a challenge well worth accepting.
Riley challenged Charleston to "lighten up" by losing 100,000 pounds during the next 365 days. Through this challenge, Charleston joins a growing number of cities taking steps to improve the health of its population by means of public health and promoting better lifestyles, most notably Oklahoma City whose residents lost more than 1 million pounds.
The mission of this initiative is simple: To reduce obesity by focusing on five specific ways of getting healthier.
- Fruits and vegetables–Eat five or more servings daily
- Get moving–Increase your level of physical activity
- Portion control–Manage portion sizes
- Beverage Consumption–Replace high-calorie beverages with healthy drinks
- Keep track–Monitor your weight, activity, and intake
Lighten Up Charleston has an interactive website, www.lightenupcharleston.org to help individuals find programs in our community to help them get healthy, track their progress, and learn about ways to lose weight. Once you create an account, you can track and report your weight loss, create a group and tell your story or seek help from the many community partners in this effort to get Charleston healthy.
One community partner is here at MUSC. Patrick M. O'Neil, Ph.D., director of the MUSC Weight Management Center, is co-chair of the program and recommends teaming up with others for the best chance of success. To work out with MUSC team members, contact Susan Johnson, Ph.D., or Janis Newton at the MUSC Wellness Center for information. With more than 4,700 pounds already lost, there is no better time than now to join the challenge to Lighten Up Charleston.