Clemson to Play Active Role in Improving Population Health Through Cooperative Extension Services

Reprinted with the permission of the College of Health, Education and Human Development at Clemson University. Click here to view the original story, including pictures and video.

Clemson University is working with community partners to craft outreach programs aimed at helping South Carolinians improve their health.

The university invited experts from land-grant universities across the country to share ideas on Cooperative Extension Service programs that have improved population health in their states. Representatives of Greenville Health System also participated at the Population Health and Land Grant Universities Summit at the Madren Conference Center.

“Research tells us that the significant determinants of an individual’s health status are lifestyle, environment and genetics. We spend a majority of our resources on health services, yet, medical care is only responsible for 10 percent of an individual’s overall health,” said Clemson Provost Robert Jones.

“As a land-grant university engaged in research, teaching and service, Clemson is in a unique position to work with our health system partners and community collaborators to impact the social determinants of health — those critical ‘other’ factors that influence health outcomes and the health status of our citizens. Today, we are defining how Clemson will approach population health and health extension.”

The summit was a partnership between the Clemson University School of Health Research; the College of Health, Education and Human Development; Clemson Cooperative Extension Service; and the Provost’s Health Task Force; as well as Greenville Health System. (See more videos from the summit on ClemsonTV).

More than 30 percent of South Carolina adults and nearly 17 percent of children are obese, according to data from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control. More than half do not meet the recommended amounts of physical activity and more than 80 percent do not eat enough fruits and vegetables.

The United Health Foundation ranks South Carolina 42nd among the states in overall health due to high rates of diabetes and obesity and low rates of physical activity, among other measures of health.

“We know that health care begins at home, not in a hospital, with healthy eating, active living and preventative health screenings,” said Windsor Sherrill, Clemson associate vice president for health research and chief science officer for Greenville Health System. “With the Clemson Cooperative Extension Service and our growing partnership with Greenville Health System, we can develop a vital health extension network to teach people to take control of their health, particularly in underserved areas that need our help most.”

Experts from Texas A&M University, Oregon State University, University of New Mexico, University of Kentucky and the University of Oklahoma attended the summit to share insights on health extension programs and community partnerships in their states.

“Today’s event will be a catalyst to healthier living in South Carolina,” said Clemson Extension Director Thomas Dobbins. “Our Extension experts in food, health and nutrition will take ideas from this summit to craft educational programs and form community partnerships aimed at helping people eat healthier and live more active lifestyles. We realize there’s a population in the state of South Carolina that needs our help to improve their health and improve their lives, and we’re going to do that.”

With offices in all 46 counties of the state, the Clemson Cooperative Extension Service provides university research-based information to help improve the quality of life in South Carolina. Extension programs cover agricultural production, youth development, food safety and nutrition, environmental stewardship, water quality, forestry and community development.

Clemson’s College of Health, Education and Human Development offers programs in nursingpublic health sciencesparks, recreation and tourism management; and youth, family and community studies. The college focuses on transforming quality of life through teaching, research and service in three areas: health, environment and communities.

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