SCale Down: We’ve Got a Lot to Lose

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) Director Catherine Templeton and the South Carolina Obesity Council today unveiled the state’s first-ever obesity action plan,  A culmination of collaborative efforts, the initiative focuses on both long-term and short-term strategies that can be immediately implemented to begin reducing the rate of obesity in the Palmetto State.

“Obesity kills the most people in South Carolina, makes the most people sick, and if prevented would save the most money in healthcare costs,” said DHEC Director Catherine Templeton.  “For the past two years, DHEC has acted as the convener for over 800 business leaders, healthcare, non-profit executives, researchers and volunteers who have been working locally to fight obesity. will direct parents, ministers, nurses, teachers and managers to the actual proven sources that can help each of us on a daily basis in our homes, schools, worksites and communities.  Today, we move from talk to coordinated action.”

Currently, two out of three South Carolina adults and one out of three children are overweight or obese.  Linked to chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease, obesity contributes to the diseases that kill the most people in our state, make the most people sick and cost our state the most money– an estimated $8.5 billion per year and growing.  If current trends continue, this generation of South Carolina children will have a shorter life expectancy than their parents.

The plan features 12 and 24 month action items in four major categories: Communities, Worksites, Healthcare and Schools/Childcare. Broadly defined, the plans overarching goals include:

  • Improve the community environment to increase access to affordable fruits and vegetables, education about healthy eating and physical activity and provide more opportunities for safe physical activity.
  • Improve employees’ health by implementing evidence-based worksite wellness strategies that reduce obesity risk factors and prevalence.
  • Improve patient care by enhancing the health care system’s ability to effectively diagnose, counsel and refer patients to needed obesity treatment, nutritional counseling and support services.
  • Improve children’s health through the use of evidence-based strategies that promote healthy eating and physical activity.

To assist the state in meeting its goals, the plan promotes sweeping actions to stimulate across-the-board changes at the environmental, policy, and system-level.

The South Carolina Institute of Medicine and Public Health (IMPH) is partnering with DHEC to facilitate action based on the plan.  “Obesity diminishes health, shortens lives and costs the state billions of dollars,” said IMPH director of operations Dr. Lee Pearson.  “The cost of inaction is too high; we have to stop this epidemic.  We are proud to work with DHEC in building on the previous work and commitment of many partners to move into a new phase of action with the launch of this plan.”

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© 2015 South Carolina Institute of Medicine and Public Health