The acting U.S. Surgeon General, Rear Admiral Steven Galson spent Wednesday in South Carolina to address the problem of childhood obesity.
More than a third of the state’s high school students are overweight or obese, giving South Carolina the dubious distinction of being fourth in the nation for this health problem, and the worst in the nation for the number of children who do not participate in after-school team sports or lessons.
Dr. Galson says its a problem in South Carolina and every single state in the country. “It’s a problem in every socio-economic group, it’s not just a problem with rural folks in the U.S., it’s an urban and suburban problem, it’s a problem everywhere. But South Carolina is too high up on the list.”
In the nation, the rates of children who are obese, have tripled since the 1970s. Dr. Lisa Waddell of the state Department of Health and Environmental Control, who is working with the Surgeon General, says, “Certainly, we are concerned about how high we are ranked. The numbers have doubled and tripled in the last couple of decades in our state and part of it, we believe, are the environments in which our families and our children live, work and play.”
Waddell says that kids need environments that are safe in which to exercise, or even walk to school, in order to be less sedentary. Also, they need access to fruits and vegetables in their diet.
The Surgeon General also came to the state to recognize Eat Smart, Move More SC, a public private collaboration between state agencies, business and industry, health care and communities.
They were given the Surgeon General’s Champion Award. He says, “What is so impressive about this program is that it represents transportation departments, agriculture departments, government on many different levels, private organizations, the agriculture community, so it really is exactly what I’d like to see in every single community around the country.”
The Surgeon General spent the day in Columbia meeting with Eat Smart, Move More SC leaders from around the state.
He says this may be the first generation of Americans to have a shorter lifespan than their parents, which will affect the future of the nation’s economy.