Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

Health

August 22, 2011

Health committee returns

Initial focus will be on childhood obesity reduction

GLASGOW — The Glasgow-Barren County Chamber of Commerce is focusing on ways to combat childhood obesity through the revitalization of its healthcare committee.

“The chamber is very interested in the growth and development of the economy of this region and the healthcare industry is the largest employer in Barren County at this point and has some of the highest wages,” said Bob Cary, president of the chamber of commerce. “The healthcare committee has been part of the chamber for some time but has not been very active until we got Beverly Mortimer interested in it.”

Mortimer, who chairs the healthcare committee, is a nurse practioneer for the Bale Center for Prevention in Glasgow. When Mortimer took over as chair of the committee she said there was a desire among members to do something in the community that would make an impact.

“When we were tossing around different ideas we talked about the epidemic of childhood obesity and how it’s growing,” she said.

Nearly one out of every six children in the United States between the ages of 2 and 19 are obese, which is 16.9 percent or an estimated 12 million youth. An additional 14.8 percent are overweight, said Mortimer.

“It is of epidemic proportion and it is growing,” she said, adding she researched the subject on the Internet and and found the “We Can” program, which she said is a national initiative sponsored by the National Institutes of Health.

With “We Can” a variety of materials are available for the healthcare committee to use in getting the message out to the community and it allows the committee to tap into the expertise of more than a thousand other communities that are already committed to using the program to overcome weight gain in their community, Mortimer said.

“We want to be a ‘We Can’ community and promote activity and nutrition among our youth and to help parents come up with the resources to do that,” she said.

The program offers a curriculum that can be used to teach parents about healthy eating, Mortimer said.

The committee has also partnered with various organizations in the community. Among those that are joining the effort is the Boys and Girls Club of Glasgow-Barren County.

Kelly Lile-Jenkins, director of the Boys and Girls Club of Glasgow-Barren County, said the program will be implemented at the club, which serves youth ranging in age from 5 to 18.

The Boys and Girls Club of Glasgow-Barren County will be offering a variety of “We Can” programs at the club.

“The ‘We Can’ education program provides parents and caregivers with tools, fun activities and more to help them encourage healthy eating, increased physical activity and reduced time sitting in front of the screen [TV or computer] in their entire family,” Jenkins said.

The committee is exploring all possibilities of how to get the word out, Mortimer said.

One opportunity the committee has already seized as a way of reaching out to the community was by distributing information during the T.J. Samson Health Career Bowl on Saturday.

The committee has also discussed sponsoring a run and other events, Mortimer said, adding anyone who wants to become involved with the initiative is welcome to join.

For more information, call the chamber of commerce at 651-3161 or the Bale Center for Prevention at 629-5433.

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