Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Washington: Big Mountains, Big Trees, Big People

Washington ranks 2nd best in the nation for physical activity, yet still suffers from a 28% obesity rate. This data supports the existing knowledge that overall wellness depends on a balance of exercise and healthy eating. While across the nation, Americans are finding it increasingly difficult to stay active, movement is less of an issue in the state of Washington.

U.S. obesity rates currently hover around 34%. Although these rates seemed to have leveled off across the country (neither increasing nor decreasing significantly in the last few years), the rate of obesity in Washington increased from 10% in 1990 to 24% in 2006. This trend is more dramatic than the national average. The Healthy People 2010 goal is to decrease the age-adjusted prevalence of obesity to 15% in adults ages 20 and older across the country. Given the current trend of increasing obesity, Washington will not meet this goal.

Currently, Washington has a wellness plan in place that (like many states) brushes the surface but fails to fully engage its citizens. Washington Wellness brings selected resources together to improve the health of organizations, families, and individuals. The plan touts:

Four Easy Steps to Better Health

1. Learn your Risks
- Take your Health Risk Assessment
- Learn about your health risks and current conditions

2. Use your Benefits to care for your health
- Talk to your doctor about your risks and conditions
- Learn what benefits your medical plans offer to help manage those conditions

3. Connect with your Worksite
- Learn how your workplace can become a Washington Wellness Worksite
- Get connected with your worksite's wellness program

4. Discover more Resources
- Check out the Fitness Club Discount Program
- Look for other resources for nutrition, physical activity, preventive care, living tobacco free, and more!

This plan requires individuals to be incredibly proactive about their health and do a significant amount of research to figure out what they are and are not eligible for. Frankly, even the most gung-ho health nuts might find it difficult to sniff out what state health options are available. How could Washington more fully encourage healthy habits? What programs, initiatives, or education could be put into effect to bring the burgeoning waistlines to a halt?

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