Organized effort to make people thinner

The Mirror

The King County Overweight Prevention Initiative is planning action to put a stop to overweight people and obesity through healthier eating and more active living.

The initiative –– sponsored by the King County Health Board, the University of Washington Exploratory Center for Obesity Research and Center for Public Health Nutrition, and the Seattle-King County Public Health Department –– has a 10-point plan for making nutrition, physical activity and communications a bigger part of people’s lives.

Among the get-slim campaign activities: Participants will make a communitywide pitch for healthy eating and active llifestyles, assist school districts’ development of nutrition and physical activity policies, and enhance employers’ efforts to promote nutrition and physical activity through worksite wellness programs.

Initiative participants have been meeting since last year to map strategies for making healthier lifestyles easier to attain in communities.

Driving the campaign are these statistics:

• More than half of King County adults (54 percent) were overweight or obese in 2004. In 1987, 37 percent of the population was overweight or obese

• Obesity and overweight rates are highest in the south King County area and among certain ethnic groups, such as African-Americans and American Indians/Alaska Natives.

“There are so many personal and societal costs associated with people being overweight, it’s important that King County take a leadership role in making the community a healthier place for everyone,” said County Executive Ron Sims. “We can reduce diseases associated with being overweight and have an impact on overall healthcare costs.”

A county-sponsored forum Oct. 12 in Tukwila featured national nutrition expert Dr. Barbara Rolls. Other speakers included Dorothy Teeter, interim director of the Health Department, and Dr. Adam Drewnowski, director of UW’s Exploratory Center for Obesity Research.

“We want to make the healthy choices easy for county residents,” said County Councilwoman Carolyn Edmonds, chairwoman of the Health Board. “Better access to healthy food and more options for physical activity will create a healthier King County.”

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