Encouraging trends cited for obesity in youth

Feb. 18, 2013 @ 06:58 PM

(Third in a series)

Heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic lung disease and diabetes are the top causes of death in Vance and Granville counties. And they are to a great extent affected by a person’s lifestyle, including physical activity, eating habits and use of tobacco.

Obesity is another characteristic affected by lifestyle, specifically by diet and exercise.

The 2012 State of the County Health Report released last week by the Granville-Vance District Health Department showed some encouraging trends in the reduced number of overweight and obese young people in Vance and Granville counties.

The number of obese or overweight children ages 2-19 in both counties was down in 2009 from the 2005 level — down 16.9 percent in Vance and down 3.5 percent in Granville. And the 2009 Vance County rate of overweight or obese children was 22.5 percent lower than the statewide rate.

Clouding this positive picture were findings that the 2009 rate of obesity in Granville County was 10.2 percent higher than in 2006 and the combined rate of obese and overweight children was 33.3 percent higher than the rate for the state.

A number of programs in the community can account for progress in addressing these continuing problems.

• The Eat Smart Move More Weight Loss Challenge starts its fifth year in 2013. Sponsored by Maria Parham Medical Center, Granville Health Systems, the YMCA and the health department, the program has enrolled 780 or more participants each year. Twenty-four percent of them have reached their goals.

• Girls on the Run is a national program that engages pre-teen girls in running and in an affirmation-based curriculum to develop self-respect and healthy lifestyles.

• The Granville County Greenway Master Plan has developed pedestrian and bike paths in every municipality in the county to make communities friendlier for walks and bicycles.

• The Community Transformation Grant Project has a 2016 goal of implementing community changes to prevent chronic diseases through healthy eating, tobacco-free and active living, and improved clinical care. Vance and Granville are part of an eight-county region focusing on expanding farmers markets, creating partnerships to provide greater access to spaces for physical activity and limiting the use of tobacco in public places. The Vance County Regional Farmers Market is a separate effort to bring fresh produce to the community while supporting local farmers.

• The Granville-Vance Faith Initiative for Community Action is a partnership of clergy and lay leaders that help churches create a vibrant, healthy and educated community. Its first program focused on obesity and related chronic illness.

More information about the biennial report can be obtained by calling either location of the health department, or by visiting online at gvdhd.org.

(Coming next: Success in schools).

Contact the writer at dirvine@hendersondispatch.com.