Pilot programs urge residents to eat healthier, move more

December 2, 2013

COLUMBIA – Community leaders from Bamberg, Fairfield and Lee counties presented updates on their local efforts to fight obesity during the statewide Unified: One Voice Against Obesity meeting held recently at the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control in Columbia.

Unified: One Voice Against Obesity is an initiative that began at DHEC in 2012 to address South Carolina’s obesity epidemic. Today, two out of three adults in South Carolina are overweight or obese. Research conducted by DHEC shows that many of the state’s rural counties are disproportionately affected by obesity, physical inactivity and type 2 diabetes.

To help address this problem, DHEC has joined forces with community partners in Bamberg, Fairfield and Lee counties to launch pilot programs to help more residents achieve a healthy weight.

DHEC is working with local schools and childcare organizations in all three counties to implement nutrition and physical activity programs in the classroom.

At five Fairfield County schools, students participate in CATCH, a program where teachers and students plant and harvest fruit and vegetable gardens that they eat on site or in the classroom. Physical activity is also incorporated by walking to and from the garden and through planting, weeding and harvesting the fruits and vegetables they grow.

“Fairfield County is making great progress in tackling lifestyle factors associated with chronic diseases and obesity,” said Mac Russell, director of the Fairfield Diabetes Education Center. “We have much ground to cover in altering the cultural and intergenerational norms that lead to poor health outcomes in Fairfield, because of this we look forward to seeing these initiatives take root in our county.”