Famous for the Liberty Bell, the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Hershey’s chocolate, Pennsylvania boasts some of the richest history in the country. Unfortunately, like many Americans, Pennsylvanians suffer from high rates of obesity and subsequent chronic diseases.
According to a 2009 report by Trust for America’s Health, in Pennsylvania, medical costs associated with obesity are the 2nd highest in the nation. At a time when health care is still a hot-button topic, the numbers speak for themselves: people in Pennsylvania simply cannot afford to be fat.
In order to decrease the current obesity rate, the state health department entered into grant agreements with several counties to implement Steps to a Healthier Pennsylvania. The CDC provided funds to the Pennsylvania Department of Health to implement chronic disease prevention efforts focused on reducing the burden of diabetes, obesity, and asthma and addressing three related risk factors: physical inactivity, poor nutrition, and tobacco use. The term “Steps” refers to the steps each person can take to improve his or her health. The target population for the program includes rural and small community residents, school-aged children and school staff, as well as mothers and young children.
Although many Americans struggle to engage in regular physical activity, Pennsylvania has agreeable weather and unbeatable historic sites, which should encourage residents and tourists alike to take advantage of the state. With an award-winning network of state and national parks, bodies of water, trails and mountains, Pennsylvania has its fair share of good-for-the-lungs fun. From Cherry Springs State Park to Pine Creek Gorge, Pennsylvania has a lot to offer in the way of hiking, biking, and outdoor recreation.
The moral of the story? Pennsylvanians should stop munching on Hershey’s chocolate and start exploring the numerous historic sites available to them. Their lives depend on it!