Mississippi has the second highest rate of obesity in the country, according to the state department of health. Stakeholders are gathering in Jackson this week as part of a statewide obesity initiative to discuss solutions. MPB's Ashley Norwood reports.
More than a hundred health advocates and experts are strategizing new ways to reduce the rate of obesity in Mississippi. According to the state department of health, almost 40% of all Mississippians are obese, a significant increase from 23.7% in 2000. State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs says it's a result of two things.
"All the forces out there make it easy to eat too much and too hard to exercise. And then the food choices we're making because of what's being presented to us, what's inexpensive as well really all drives the likelihood of us being obese and being more obese in the future," said Dobbs.
Dobbs says while some of the attention is focused on making adults healthier, he believes the most impactful strategy is to prevent obesity- starting with prenatal care and children.
Dobbs says forty percent of school-aged children and youth in the state are overweight or obese.
As students anticipate the summer break, Nancy New of Families First for Mississippi says changing the culture at home is important.
"Many people don't sit down and have dinner together at night. They are on the go. They are working. There are a lot of activities going on so it's grab what you can. And so sometimes what people are grabbing is not healthy. That becomes a routine and before you know it, it's out of control within the body," said New.
Experts are advising families to get at least 15 minutes of exercise a day and include a more healthy diet and portion control. Ashley Norwood, MPB News.