Rush challenges residents to take a stand during national Red Ribbon Week
October 23-31, 2013 is National Red Ribbon Week.
The theme for the 2013 Red Ribbon Week Campaign is "A Healthy Me is Drug Free". This theme combines the traditional Red Ribbon message of celebrating life drug-free with living a healthy life. What a wonderful opportunity for everyone to take the pledge to be drug-free and to live a healthy life.
Did you know that the obesity rates have more than doubled since 1990-from 11.6 percent to 24.5 percent in 2003 to 31.5 percent in 2010? If obesity is left unchecked, almost all of Americans will be obese by 2050. Predictions are that If obesity trends continue, this generation of America's children will be the most obese generation in American history.
Implications for the national health care system are staggering, but the impact on the individual heath and well- being is perhaps even more staggering. Overweight children are more likely to miss school and experience problems with low self-esteem and depression (Chicago Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children). In contrast, healthy behaviors in children and youth can have a positive impact on academic performance through improved concentration, reduced sickness, and reduced behavior problems (Action for Healthy Kids, 2004). Overweight adolescents have a 70 percent chance of becoming overweight or obese as adults (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2001).
Obesity is having a substantial negative impact on life expectancy, quality of life, and the economy. The prevalence of overweight and obesity has become one of the most critical health issues in both South Carolina and the United States. U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona has called obesity America's single biggest health problem. Obesity has important consequences on our nation's health and economy. It is linked to a number of chronic diseases, including coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and some cancers (NIH Clinical Guidelines, 1998). Among adults, the medical costs associated with obesity are estimated at 147 billion dollars (Finkelstein, 2009). Overweight and obesity cut across all ages, economic levels, and racial and ethnic groups. As society seeks solutions to this overwhelming epidemic, it is clear that overweight and obesity are deeply complex issues, rooted in behavioral, biological, cultural and social behaviors.
In Barnwell County, 29.6 percent of adults are obese. This issue also affects Barnwell County's younger citizens as 15 percent are overweight and 16.7 percent are obese. Consider this: 22 percent of Barnwell County adults have poor or fair health (16 percent S.C.), 21 percent of Barnwell County adults are cigarette smokers (21 percent S.C.), 11 percent of Barnwell County adults fall into the excessive drinking category (11 percent S.C.), 36 percent of the county's children live in poverty and 48 percent live in a single-parent homes.
The problem, children and adults are not eating the recommended number of fruits and vegetables a day (5 servings) and are inactive-82.4 percent of adults and 83.2 percent of adolescents do not get the recommended 30 minutes of physical activity per day on five days or more or vigorous physical activity for at least 20 minutes on three or more days per week. Many American communities are characterized by unhealthy options when it comes to diet and physical activity. In fact, Barnwell County's overall health outcomes and health factors currently rank 36th in the state.
In addition to the rising obesity rates in the county, the number of persons using/abusing alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, and the inappropriate use of prescription drugs continues to rise. Preventing drug abuse, excessive alcohol use, and reducing exposure to secondhand smoke increases people's chances of living long, healthy, and productive lives. Excessive alcohol use includes-binge drinking (i.e. five or more drinks during a single occasion for men, four or more drinks during a single occasion for women), underage drinking, drinking while pregnant, and alcohol impaired driving. Drug abuse includes any inappropriate use a prescription and over-the counter drugs or use of any illicit (illegal) drugs. Alcohol and other drug use can impede judgment and lead to harmful risk-taking behavior. Preventing drug abuse and excessive alcohol use improves the quality of life, academic performance, workplace productivity, and military preparedness; reduces crime and criminal justice expenses, reduces motor vehicle crashes and fatalities; and lowers health care costs for acute and chronic conditions.
Eat Smart Move More Barnwell County and the Axis I Center of Barnwell wants to improve the overall health of the county and is working to implement strategies to change theses outcomes. We need public health approaches that make healthy options available, accessible, and affordable for all citizens.
To change the health of the community, the county must address the full spectrum of life in Barnwell County from corporate boardrooms to churches, from medical centers to daycare/childcare centers to strategically influence individuals, families, communities, organizations, and the policies and environments that shape our behavior. We need policy makers, individuals, organizations, churches, families, and businesses to take action and create supportive environments for a healthier Barnwell County. If you would like to become a partner in the Eat Smart Move More's and the Axis I Center of Barnwell's efforts to change the overall health of Barnwell County, contact Pam Rush or Ferlecia Cuthbertson at 541-1245.
I challenge all Barnwell County citizens to take a stand beginning Oct. 23-31, 2013 to live "Healthy and Drug-Free". Make today the first day of a new healthy lifestyle for you and your family. "Make the Healthy Choice the Easy Choice".
Pam Rush, CSPS, ICPS
Director of Prevention Services, Axis I Center of Barnwell
Chair, Eat Smart Move More Barnwell County
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