Tuesday, August 24, 2010

South Carolina: An Apple A Day Could Keep Obesity at Bay

The state of South Carolina currently ranks as the nation’s 2nd worst in its consumption of fruits and vegetables. South Carolina’s adult obesity rate of 65% was 6th highest in the nation in 2008. With staggering obesity rates as well as a frighteningly high number of diabetics, it’s no wonder Jenny Sanford founded The Healthy SC Challenge along with the SCDHEC with the hope of encouraging healthier habits among residents.

Like many Americans, residents of S.C. seem to consider healthy eating to be a luxury, but it’s time they made it a priority. The South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported that physical inactivity costs the state an estimated $4,653,065,914 in medical care, workers comp and lost productivity each year – averaging about $1,466 per person (SCDHEC & Active Living Leadership). What’s so alarming is that even small lifestyle changes can make a big difference, but little progress has been seen in the past 10 years. If anything, South Carolina health stats indicate South Carolinians to be only slightly healthier now than in 2008 and frankly, it's all relative. Instead of South Carolinians getting fit, other states are merely getting fatter and pushing S.C. from 6th most obese state to 9th.

Although Jenny Sanford’s health initiative is a step in the right direction, there are few incentives motivating South Carolinians to engage with the informative, but dry program. Some states (like Indiana) offer interactive, exciting opportunities to encourage citizens on the path to wellness, but South Carolina seems to be missing the boat. Unfortunately, even if someone understands that they should eat healthy, it doesn’t necessarily mean that when faced with the decision they will choose to munch on carrots instead of french fries.

Although the message behind the health challenge is commendable, there is very little incentive for South Carolinians to start taking their health seriously. Currently on the website, there are zero calendar events listed for locals and it appears that no activities were offered throughout the summer. While pamphlets and facts on health and wellness are an important factor in raising awareness, most people need an additional boost to begin healthier habits. Come on South Carolinians, you can do better!

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