A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says about 28% of Pennsylvanians are obese, 1.3% above the national average.
Pennsylvania Department of Health Secretary Everette James says health care providers, businesses, schools, and governments have a responsibility to work together to bring that statistic down.
The Health Secretary says since most adults spend a majority of their waking hours at their jobs, the state is sponsoring several workplace wellness programs that promote good eating habits inside and outside work. James says while many large businesses have implemented these programs, the Health Department is still working with county agencies to bring the programs to small businesses as well.
James says Pennsylvania’s childhood obesity rates have tripled in the last twenty to thirty years, bringing about one-third of the state’s school-aged children to be overweight or obese.
He says the Department of Health is giving $15,000 grants for elementary and middle schools to give students 30 minutes of exercise each day. In addition, he says the Department is pushing for a Body Mass Index of each child to be sent to his or her parents by the school nurse. James says he’s also working with Penn State University to develop nutritional information on all school lunches, so children can practice what they learn about healthy eating.
James says while people are responsible for their own eating habits, businesses, health care providers and government should provide them with the option for healthy choices and the opportunity to turn around their obesity.