04.30.12 Health officials are partnering with businesses to promote healthy living in Calcasieu Parish, and they hope to spread the message to the five-parish area.
Dr. B.J. Foch with the state Office of Public Health told Calcasieu Parish police jurors Thursday about the Dare to be Healthy Project. He said the goal is to lower obesity rates within the parish and in Lake Charles — which, according to a 2009 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are both higher than the national average.
The average national obesity rate for people 20 and older is 28 percent, and Louisiana’s rate is 34.6 percent. The obesity rate for Calcasieu Parish is 37.3 percent, and Lake Charles’ obesity rate is 37.7 percent.
“That caught our eye in the partnership,” Foch said. “The worst message is that Lake Charles and Calcasieu Parish were worse than the state of Louisiana.”
People in Calcasieu Parish and Lake Charles are also less active, according to the study. Nationally, the percent of people 18 and older who are not physically active is 24.2 percent. Statewide, that number is 28.6 percent. Calcasieu Parish reported 30.7 percent of people who are not active, and Lake Charles reported 30.3 percent.
In terms of a healthy diet, an average of 23.5 percent of people nationwide said they eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables. The average for Louisiana was 16.9 percent. Calcasieu Parish had an average of 15.7 percent, and Lake Charles’ average was 15.6 percent.
Foch said parents who teach their children about healthy living and healthy eating can help lower obesity rates and other risk factors, like heart disease.
"We know that our children watch us,” he said. “I don’t know what better gift a parent or grandparent can give to a child than their own health. That’s more than just living a long time; it’s having a good quality of life toward the end of your life.”
Foch said the partnership is teaming up with similar projects in the area, like Kids in the Kitchen, which was organized by the Junior League of Lake Charles and is expected to kick off this fall. He said they are working to apply for a Blue Cross Blue Shield grant and are planning a Louisiana sports festival this fall.
More than 60 people have joined the Dare to be Healthy Project since it began last July. District 14 Police Juror Hal McMillin said the program is “something we all need to look at.”
“If something’s going to be a culture change, it’s going to start with all of us,” he said.
Reprinted courtesy of the Lake Charles American Press