Friday, May 24, 2013
State Steps In To Help Alaskans Struggling To Cut The Fat
State teams up with Spenard Farmer’s Market for food stamp program
ANCHORAGE—A new report says Alaska ranks 30th in the country when it comes to the number of fattest residents.
Sixty-six percent of Alaskans are considered overweight or obese—a trend some are trying to reverse by getting people out in places like the gym, in their neighborhood, and in the city's parks and trails.
The costs associated with obesity are diabetes and heart disease.
But with the annual “F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future 2011” study citing income and education as factors to being healthy, getting everyone on the same page is part of the mission.
It’s not easy to get in shape. About two-thirds of Alaskans are struggling with being overweight or obese.
"They just want to move better or walk up the steps and not have to take three or four breaks just going up the stairs,” said Thomas Nelson III, who is a personal trainer for Planet Fitness. "They come in and do two hours in the gym and the next day they can't move. Two days they can't move, three days later they can't move and say, ‘You know what. I'm going to take a little break and not come back.’ Six months later, it’s the same process."
It’s a never-ending cycle that the state wants to help people break.
"Look at the correlation between being overweight or obese and the health issues that chronic condition and the medical care costs it takes to treat somebody," said Karol Fink, the state’s obesity prevention manager.
Food habits are a major hurdle—one the state is attempting clear by offering low-income residents a chance to buy nutritious produce through a pilot program with the Spenard Farmers Market and Quest food stamps.
"The less likely you are to have a chronic condition, the less likely you are to be obese," said Fink.
"We're seeing those families, those adults helping develop healthy eating habits at a young age for their children," said Cindy Shake, who is with the Spenard Farmers Market.
Health advocates are also encouraging more Alaskans to be active, get off the couch and make personal fitness goals.
"People should start with three times a week, I want to go two times a week, or just start off one time a week,” said Nelson. “That way, it’s attainable.”
There isn't one answer for everyone; each Alaskan has to decide how and when to live healthier.
"There is no silver bullet to fix this," said Fink. "If people don't recognize they’re overweight or obese they are not going to be willing to make changes. So we have to have people start recognizing."
With the Quest cards now available at the Spenard Farmers Market, officials have seen the numbers of people using them for fresh produce triple each Saturday. The state got $430,000 from the capital budget to promote children’s physical fitness and education.