That’s according to data released by the state Department of Health and Environment Control, the South Carolina Obesity Council, and the state Department of Agriculture — which launched the state’s first-ever obesity action plan last week.
One of the nonprofits helping in the effort is Eat Smart, Move More South Carolina. Executive Director Beth Franco says the organization works with communities across the state to develop action plans for educating citizens about proper nutrition and to create safe environments where people can exercise.
“That might be anything from helping communities create community gardens, to working on bike-pedestrian plans, to actually creating walking trails, and also to make sure facilities are safe for our children so that they can go exercise or be out playing,” Franco said.
The action plan includes the website SCaledown.org, which acts as a hub for information concerning nutrition education and ways to live more active lifestyles.
Franco says her organization works with both urban and rural areas to get communities eating healthy and being more active. She said that includes getting local governments involved in the effort.
“A very significant thing that I see is happening in South Carolina is that some of the county and city planners are looking at healthy eating, active living now as part of what their review and action plan is going to be,” she said. “That is a huge thing to be moving in that direction.”
Franco says it is very important to education children at an early age about proper nutrition and being active. Eat Smart, Move More SC works with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation in that area, she added. Franco says her group is also working with parent-teacher organizations to help support healthy school food policies and promote healthy areas for exercise and play.
Franco says she is very excited to see that churches in communities across the state are getting involved in the effort. “We’ve had some great success stories with the faith community where they’re not only doing community gardens at their churches, but they’re also having educational series for their members to talk to them about to them about health and nutrition.”
The nonprofit’s leaders say a lot of work is still yet to be done, such as improving the access to affordable healthy food in both isolated rural communities and in areas with large populations living below the poverty line.