South Carolina’s health leaders are teaming up for a fresh approach to combating obesity.
Two out of three adults in the state are overweight or obese. Obesity contributes to chronic diseases, shortened life expectancies and costs the state an astounding $8.5 billion per year.
The South Carolina Department of Agriculture is proud to partner with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control and the South Carolina Obesity Council to provide citizens with fresh produce and make healthy eating an easy choice.
The South Carolina Obesity Action Plan, Scale Down, (SCaledown.org) aims to reduce obesity by targeting communities, worksites, health care providers, schools and child care.
SCDA has committed to increasing access to fresh fruits and vegetables through Farm to School programs, local farmers markets and community gardens.
“We are excited about this partnership with DHEC and look forward to tackling obesity throughout the state,” says Hugh Weathers, South Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture. “The South Carolina Department of Agriculture is working hard to make sure local, nutritious products are available to everyone.”
South Carolina’s not-so-secret weapon is the vast number of farmers producing the wholesome foods necessary to achieve this goal.
“With the help of our network of farmers, the South Carolina Department of Agriculture is committed to this journey, particularly through increasing the access to fresh fruits and vegetables for consumers, from school-aged children to senior citizens,” says Meredith Atkinson, SCDA public information director. “One way to do this is through our 1,600 Certified SC members who sell to schools, restaurants and other food establishments, 150 Certified SC roadside markets, three State Farmers Markets and community-based farmers markets throughout the state.”
With creativity and patience, these short- and long-term strategies will reduce obesity in the state and introduce healthy lifestyles to South Carolinians.
“This is not something that is going to happen overnight, but we have invested in strategies that will make an impact not only today, but in the future,” Weathers says.