State strategizes for obesity prevention, reduction

State health officials are introducing a five-prong approach to reduce obesity in Michigan. It includes the promotion of healthy options everywhere.

The Michigan Department of Community Health released its “Be Active, Eat Healthy” priority strategies for the next five years.

Department officials said strategies include educating the public, creating new state-level partnerships and policy change.

Angela Minicuci, spokeswoman with the department, said Michigan faces unique obstacles to a healthy lifestyle, like weather.

“We have a very cold year, especially this year, where a lot of people spend their time indoors,” she said. “If it’s not easy for them to get across the street to a farmers’ market or easy for them to go out to the local community center to do some physical activity, those are some things that we need to change.”

Still, state officials said Michigan remains among the most obese states in the nation.

“Not only does a reduction indicate that people are getting healthier, but it also indicates that we are preventing obesity in the first place,” she said. “If you have rates that continue to climb, even as you’re making an obese population healthier, you could have potentially healthy individuals becoming obese.”

Minicuci said the plan supports local communities to make policy changes that increase opportunities for healthy eating and physical activity.