The Department of Health and Environmental Control and the South Carolina Obesity Council announced on Wednesday they have created the state’s first-ever Obesity Action Plan. DHEC Director Catherine Templeton says the overall goal of the plan is share information with the public on ways to combat obesity.
Introducing the plan at a luncheon Wednesday at the State Farmer’s Market, Templeton says the hub will be a new website SCaledown.org. Templeton said the website will direct users to various other sites on the web, such as Eat Smart, Move More SC.
Two out of three adults and one out of three children in South Carolina are either overweight or obese. Templeton said, adding that the healthcare costs due to obesity cost an estimated $8.5 billion each year.
The plan is focused on four major categories: communities, worksites, healthcare and schools/childcare. The plan features 12- and 24-month action items in each category.
Templeton says, in order to get children started early in eating healthy and exercising habits, DHEC is providing a grading system on the website for parents to see what daycare centers are getting kids off on the right foot toward living healthier lives.
“We have incentivized this. If you’ve got activity, you get a “C.” If you’ve got activity and you’re educating on nutrition, you get a “B,” she said to reporters on Wednesday. “The bottom line is that the better you are at teaching this nutritional counseling, the higher your grade is going to be. And Moms and Dads can see that.”
The South Carolina Medical Association is also rolling out a tool kit for every doctor’s office around the state to help educate the youngest patients about obesity and its link to chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes.
Templeton said one goal is to eventually increase local SNAP benefits (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) by 20 percent and other food assistance programs for Women Infants and Children (WIC) by 10 percent. The goal is to get people to use the increase to purchase more fresh fruits and vegetables.
“Our goal is to serve 16,000 Medicaid patients by June of 2016 with obesity counseling,” Templeton said. “We know the problems there. It’s just a matter of giving the education.”
DHEC also wants to increase the number of businesses that are using the “Working Well” program from 32 statewide to 100. “Working Well” tries to promote better health in the workplace by through healthier policies and better work environments.
The South Carolina Department of Agriculture is a partner in the fight against obesity with its “Farm to School” program.
“We have worked with over 100 schools across South Carolina in helping fund their efforts,” Agriculture Commissioner Hugh Weathers said. “From a school garden projects to committing to having a number of fresh, local vegetables in their menus.
Templeton said the goal is to increase to the number of schools participating in the program to 133 by next June.