Go local: community leaders key to decreasing obesity in Georgia

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Obesity Initiative at UGA

Image courtesy of koratmember/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of koratmember/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The obesity challenge is a statewide problem, but it requires local solutions.

The UGA Obesity Initiative has been involved in efforts to decrease obesity in Georgia’s Clarke County and Colquitt County. Gaining the support of local leaders was crucial to these efforts, UGA’s Debbie Murray told the Red & Black in an article published last week. Murray co-chairs the initiative’s Community Health Team.

“You start with those champions in that community,” Murray said in the article. “When you have some of those champions who really take on the issue, then that helps build the capacity because they bring people along with them.”

While attempts are being made to curb obesity in these counties, much work is left to be done in communities across the state. The Red & Black article tells the story of Terrell County, which has the highest percentage of obese adults in the state. Though the problem is complex, the article does provide hope, suggesting ways local community and business leaders might address the obesity issue.

One possibility the article doesn’t mention is encouraging involvement in existing statewide programs for healthy living, such as WalkGeorgia, a fitness program sponsored by UGA Cooperative Extension. While a single program can’t solve the issue for a community, it can be a step in the right direction.

To find out more about obesity and well-being in your community, find your county on the County Health Rankings map, created by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.