Heath dept fights obesity

January 21, 2013

District Health Department #10 has been awarded one of six grants from the Michigan Department of Community Health focused on reducing obesity by implementing the Michigan Health and Wellness 4×4 plan. This state plan includes four recommendations: maintain a healthy diet, engage in regular exercise, get an annual physical exam, and avoid all tobacco use. It is recommended that four measures are controlled: body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and blood sugar.

Locally, a ten-county community campaign will provide education on obesity and encourage a call to action. The local campaign will occur in conjunction with the state wide campaign to reduce obesity called, “MI Healthier Tomorrow,” which will be launched on Jan. 23, 2013.

“Obesity is a serious health concern in our health jurisdiction,” said Linda VanGills, health officer at District Health Department # 10. “When we look at rates of obesity and overweight combined, eight of our ten counties have rates higher than the state of Michigan. When looking only at obesity, approximately one-third of our population falls in this category. The incidence of obesity is increasing, resulting in significant health problems, not only for the individual, but also the corresponding impact on our communities.”

Working through local health coalitions and in conjunction with additional community partners, District Health Department #10 will offer viewings of the “HBO Documentary Series : Weight of the Nation” and provide residents an opportunity to respond to a call to action. The information gathered from participants will be used to strengthen the community action plan. These opportunities will be offered in many different settings throughout the health jurisdiction and will also promote the state-wide campaign.

In addition, three counties have been selected to receive targeted interventions in collaboration with community health coalitions. Manistee, Newaygo and Wexford counties will participate in an intense community campaign titled LiveWell which includes wellness challenges and activities including:

  • Community weight loss challenge to lose an average of one pound per person in each county – for a combined impact of over 107,000 pounds. This will be accomplished through:
  • On-going community physical activity challenges designed to promote regular exercise in our everyday life.
  • Social Media Campaign for those who join the campaign that includes a weekly reminder by text , email & Facebook on the small steps that can be taken every day to LiveWell.
  • Community nutrition challenge including a 100 Garden Challenge in each county to encourage residents to develop or expand community and individual gardens.
  • Monthly community nutrition and physical activity events to support LiveWell Lifestyles.
  • In Wexford County, funding will also support a new fitness trail at Franklin Elementary School targeting community use and support a new community garden.
  • In Newaygo County, funding will provide worksite wellness assessments, consultation, and programs targeting 15 worksites.


Local health coalitions in the health jurisdiction, hospitals, schools, and other community partners will be working with District Health Department #10 to promote this obesity prevention plan and conduct the related activities.

“The answer to the epidemic needs to come not only from individual action, but must include community action to be truly effective,” VanGills said.

Regionally, the Northwest Michigan Cancer Prevention and Awareness Coalition, through the efforts of this grant, has broadened its mission from cancer and will work with their member organizations to reduce chronic disease by promoting Michigan’s 4×4 plan and the MI Healthy Tomorrow campaign. Now known as the Northwest Michigan Chronic Disease Prevention Coalition, this group will join the efforts to reduce obesity and promote the LiveWell campaign across the 10 counties.

Promotion of the state and local campaigns are underway. Watch for more information on how you can pledge to promote a healthier lifestyle for you, your family, and your community. For more information and to participate, please email livewell4health@dhd10.org or call 231-775-9942 ext. 3835.

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