Furthering fitness in South Georgia


Obesity Initiative at UGA

Image courtesy of federico stevanin/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of federico stevanin/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Community leaders are making efforts to promote health in one of Georgia’s most obese counties – Burke County – according to an article published last week in The Red & Black.

Burke County has an obesity rate of 36 percent, and 31 percent of its residents aren’t physically active, according to this year’s County Health Rankings. But efforts are being made to encourage exercise.

The article tells the story of Kyleigh Egan and her family, who started running and walking together after Kyleigh participated in a youth fitness program called Girls on the Run. The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service in Burke County brought the international after-school program to the area.

Located in Southeast Georgia on the South Carolina border, Burke is ranked 145 out of Georgia’s 159 counties for health outcomes, a measure of length of life and quality of life used by the County Health Rankings. Surrounding counties, such as Jenkins and Richmond, have similar low rankings at 142 and 135, respectively. Some of the top preventable causes of death are related to obesity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Leaders of the University of Georgia Obesity Initiative hope to partner with extension offices in the future to reduce obesity in South Georgia and throughout the state, as the Red & Black article explains.

UGA researchers have already worked with another South Georgia community, Colquitt County, to promote the use of walking trails and farmers markets.

“What we’re hoping will happen is that, as we get things on the ground that are successful, those things will diffuse across the state,” said Debbie Murray, co-chair of the Obesity Initiative’s Community Health Team, in The Red & Black’s article.

For more on obesity in Georgia counties, check out the previous article in The Red & Black’s “Weigh down South” series.