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From food to bike paths, Federal Way joins countywide health campaign

A new campaign to promote healthy living in King County was launched this week. The program, called Let’s Do This King County, is aimed at educating residents about healthier options in their neighborhoods and communities.

Here in Federal Way, part of the campaign to raise awareness is already under way, said Janet Shull, senior planner with the city.

“What we’ve been doing with that grant money is working with King County staff on our bicycle and pedestrian master plan, basically updating our citywide plan for biking and walking activities,” she said. “That is part of the active living element.”

Federal Way is part of the Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) program and is participating in the Built Environment Coalition. The term “built environment” refers to the places people work, live and play — and how the design of those places affect human behavior.

Outside of the physical activities, Shull said Federal Way is exploring options at increasing access to healthy foods. So far, she said, the results can be seen in the community gardens that are popping up around Federal Way, and also in the increased popularity of the Federal Way Farmers Market.

Shull said one last effort the city has participated in is EngageFederalWay.com. She says the intent is to have that website become the public’s forum for creating better choices in the city.

“It’s a site for residents to submit ideas for biking, walking, healthy foods,” she said. “For Twin Lakes residents, it’s also where we’d like to see their input on the sub-area plan for that neighborhood. It’s one way for citizens to get involved and share ideas.”

The county is fully behind this program, said King County Executive Dow Constantine.

“When everybody has the chance to be healthy, our region’s economy and quality of life can flourish,” he said in a news release.

Let’s Do This King County is an ad campaign that will use “(a) television ad, videos, website and outdoor advertising” to promote the changes already under way throughout the county. Some of the changes are already happening in low-income neighborhoods and the convenience stores in those neighborhoods. Using the example of the SeaTac International Market, the county indicates that local convenience store has re-opened with “more fresh and healthy foods.”

This push for altering the choices of King County residents is backed up by medical research, says Dr. David Fleming, director and health officer for Public Health - Seattle and King County.

“We know from research and experience that creating healthy places to live, work, learn and play will save lives. It will also save money from health care and other expenses, such as lost productivity,” Fleming said.

According to the county, about 4,000 deaths in King County, or about one-third of the annual average total, are a result of smoking, unhealthy eating and lack of exercise. Residents of “disadvantaged” communities are “three to four times more likely to be obese” or smokers, compared to the “well-off” neighborhoods, according to the county.

Public Health and its partners “are working to create sustainable community changes that increase access to physical activity and healthy food, decrease access to unhealthy food potions, decrease tobacco use and limit exposure to secondhand smoke.”

 

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