Efforts in the region's battle against the bulge are taking shape in a push to get community and government leaders on the same page with health officials.
Wednesday's Central Georgia Regional Health Summit at Macon State College encouraged cooperation among a range of local entities to find ways to counter an obesity epidemic — and the medical woes that stem from it — that costs Georgians an estimated $2.1 billion a year. Community leaders from seven Middle Georgia counties — Bibb, Houston, Crawford, Jones, Monroe, Peach and Twiggs — were on hand.
Twenty-nine percent of adults in the state are considered obese (1.9 million people), fewer than half are "regularly active," and only 1 in 5 eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily, according to 2008 figures from the Georgia Department of Human Resources.
The department's most recent report on obesity notes that people are more likely to exercise "if they have a safe and convenient place to walk," and that more "organizational policies are needed in communities, work sites, and health-care settings" to promote healthier living.
A speaker at Wednesday's meeting, Dr. Chris Parker of the Georgia Health Policy Center at Georgia State University, said, "Once you have the leadership and the community collaboration, it's amazing what these regionalized kinds of action can do. If folks are committed to the long haul, you see change with time."
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