Tag Archives: obesity

DHEC in the News: Flu, prenatal care, obesity

Here’s a look at health and environmental news from around South Carolina.

Influenza on the rise in Charleston County this season

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) — Doctors across the nation have warned, that the 2017-2018 flu season could be a harsh one.

And with the flu season just underway, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control has some early numbers showing the spread of the virus and areas where confirmed cases are more prevalent.

In South Carolina, pregnant women are increasingly giving birth without prenatal care

More than 860 pregnant women gave birth in South Carolina last year having received no prenatal care — the highest number in more than 20 years, new health department data show.

By comparison, in 2013 the number of women receiving no prenatal care was much lower: 579.

General Interest

Nearly 4 in 10 adults in the U.S. are now obese, a new high 

Americans’ obesity rates have reached a new high-water mark. Again.

In 2015 and 2016, just short of 4 in 10 American adults had a body mass index that put them in obese territory.

In addition, just under 2 in 10 American children — those between 2 and 19 years of age — are now considered obese as well.

School Wellness Success at Bamberg One’s Richard Carroll Elementary School

By Erica Ayers, MPH, CHES
School Health Coordinator
Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity

When was the last time you were in a school?  Has it been a few years or even a few decades?  If you visited a school today, like Richard Carroll Elementary School in Bamberg School District One, you might be pleasantly surprised by what you find:  a culture of wellness.

Healthy choices offered to students and staff

Schools have responded to the obesity epidemic by making the healthy choice the easy choice for students and staff during the school day.  For its part, Richard Carroll Elementary has been participating in the Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s Healthy Schools Program and the Boeing Center for Children’s Wellness (BCCW) School Wellness Checklist.  For three school years, Richard Carroll Elementary has received training and technical assistance from Erica Ayers, the School Health Coordinator with the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity at DHEC, and Ellen Munson, the Program Coordinator at BCCW, to build healthy, sustainable, learning environments.

Karen Threatt, the Food Service Director in Bamberg School District One, has found value in participating in both programs.  “The Alliance for a Healthier Generation has helped us achieve our goals associated with Boeing’s School Wellness Checklist.  The Alliance’s Healthy Schools Program Action Plan made it easier for us to grow our wellness culture,” she said.

 To promote healthy eating, Richard Carroll Elementary took an innovative route by combining lessons learned from its days as a SC Farm to School site with techniques to reduce food waste.  Students started composting foods left over from breakfast and lunch to fertilize their three school gardens where they grow herbs, pumpkins, cabbage, cucumbers, watermelons, and more.  This provides students a unique opportunity to taste foods that they have grown themselves.

Access to equipment supports physical activity

BambergWellnessBallTo promote active living, Richard Carroll Elementary outfitted an Action-Based Learning Lab where all students have access to specialized equipment that integrates physical activities into learning motor skills, spatial ability, coordination, and social interaction.  The school also coordinated a Raiderthon, a fun-run fundraiser where students ran and/or walked laps to raise money for future school wellness initiatives.

To promote staff wellness, an empty classroom was transformed into a yoga BambergWellnessMatsstudio/meditation space.  Staff get together usually once a week after school and use the Smartboard and DVDs to guide them through physically challenging, yet mindfully charged, yoga exercises.

This past school year, Richard Carroll held its first Wellness Week to “Celebrate Being Healthy.” Each day provided fun opportunities for students and staff to eat healthy and be physically active, including Drink Water Day on Monday, Try it (a new vegetable) Tuesday, Recess Rocks Wednesday with new portable play equipment, Bring a Fruit or Vegetable from Home Thursday, and Wellness Walk around campus Friday.

Focus on wellness will continue

These are only examples of what Richard Carroll Elementary is doing to promote health and wellness.  Principal Stacey Walter is very proud of what her staff and students have accomplished and ensures that wellness will remain embedded in the culture of the school by continuing to lead their School Wellness Committee and by participating in the district’s Coordinated School Health Advisory Committee.

Walkable Communities: A Statewide Snapshot of Pedestrian Planning Efforts

By Kelly Kavanugh, MPH, CHES
Active Living Consultant
Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity

In 2015, the U.S. Surgeon General released a Call to Action to promote walking and walkable communities as a means to address the growing obesity epidemic in America. DHEC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity (DNPAO) is working to address the Surgeon General’s recommendations in South Carolina by encouraging communities to consider pedestrians in planning efforts.What is a pedestrian plan?

A pedestrian plan includes design recommendations that create a safe, healthy, and efficient environment for pedestrian commuting and recreation.

Image by Taylor Jacobs via Attribution Engine. Licensed under CC0.


Why pedestrian plans?

Communities that have a pedestrian or bicycle/pedestrian plan demonstrate purposeful insight to accommodate for pedestrians, which better positions the communities to apply for implementation and infrastructure funding. Pedestrian plans also provide a vision for the community and demonstrate community buy-in and sustainability.

What did we do?

In order to develop more walkable communities, DNPAO needed to first determine the number of pedestrian plans that currently exist across the state. Working with John M. Newman Planning, all SC jurisdictions (46 counties and 270 municipalities) were surveyed on their pedestrian planning efforts. Sixty-two percent of jurisdictions (35 counties and 161 municipalities) responded to the survey. Key findings indicate that of those jurisdictions which responded to the survey:

  • 7% have adopted a pedestrian or bicycle/pedestrian plan
  • 6% of counties and 11.2% of municipalities are currently developing a pedestrian plan
  • 2% of jurisdictions intend to develop a pedestrian plan within the next five years
  • 9% of adopted plans include access to healthy foods

Now what?

The information gathered from this survey will provide DHEC and other agencies such as the South Carolina Department of Transportation, the Metropolitan Planning Organizations, the Councils of Governments, the S.C. Association of Counties, and the Municipal Association of S.C. a snapshot of county and municipal pedestrian planning efforts across the state. The inventory data will help to identify current and future pedestrian planning needs of S.C. communities so that more thoughtful technical assistance can be provided.

How can other DHEC program areas use this information?

  • DHEC Region community health teams can use the information to determine the different stages of pedestrian planning within their communities.
  • TheDivision of Healthy Aging can assist local jurisdictions that are creating infrastructure for pedestrians with implementing the Walk With Ease Program.
  • The Bureau of Air Quality can work with communities who have adopted a pedestrian plan to consider other programs to improve air quality and quality of life in general.
  • The Division of Injury and Violence Prevention can help to identify areas that could benefit from a pedestrian plan based on previous Safe Routes to School transportation safety observations. The Division can also help new communities who may be seeking to develop pedestrian plans by helping to address safety concerns.
  • The Office of Community Health Improvement can help new communities who may be seeking to develop a pedestrian plan by identifying opportunities for coordination and integration.

To access the snapshots, please see the links below.

Statewide: http://www.scdhec.gov/library/CR-011747.pdf

County: http://www.scdhec.gov/library/CR-011843.pdf

Municipality: http://www.scdhec.gov/library/CR-011844.pdf

Improved Outdoor Learning Spaces Boost Health

School is back in session, and DHEC has been helping to support healthy habits and create active learning environments for students.

Misty Pearson with DHEC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity is working with the Natural Learning Initiative (NLI) at N.C. State University on a program called Preventing Obesity by Design, or “POD” for short, that creates outdoor learning environments that conform to nature, inspiring activity and better health.
“The purpose of POD is to address the obesity epidemic in young children attending child care,” explains Pearson. “We want to transform child care outdoor learning environments into engaging, interactive spaces that encourage children to play.”

Research behind the POD concept finds that designing the outdoor learning space a certain way encourages children to move through the space actively without adult intervention.
“After participating in training with NLI, S.C. childcare professionals have a deepened understanding of the benefits of naturalizing and designing these environments to improve physical activity, nutrition, and learning outcomes for young children,” Pearson explained.

A POD pilot project has led to redesigning the McLeod Child Development Center in Florence County, S.C. From the beginning, the center embraced the pilot concepts and implemented many of the outdoor learning components in its design plan.

“The first additions included raised planting beds for the children to plant vegetables and a performance stage,” Pearson said. “The children began using the stage right away.”

Among the notable changes made on the center’s playground was the addition of a concrete primary path and sod. This primary path acts as the plan’s anchor.  Immediately, the children began running, riding tricycles and walking hand-in-hand around the path. They were becoming more active due to the design changes on the grounds.

McLeoplayground

The outdoor learning environment at McLeod Child Development Center in Florence, S.C. was renovated based on the POD concept.

This projectis showing how innovation can promote better health among our state’s children. Pearson says the initial pilot project in Florence County has shown that the redesigned outdoor learning environments can encourage additional activity among the center’s children. Efforts are now expanding into Spartanburg County for another project, which involves Clemson University’s Department of Landscape Architecture.

“With the university’s involvement,” Pearson says, “we can begin to build South Carolina’s in-state capacity to design outdoor learning environments and create our own sustainable process for the future.”

Wishing You A Healthy Holiday

By Bryony Wardell

Give yourself the gift of good health by making some easy changes and choices this holiday season that can help you feel merry and bright all year long.

Enjoy yourself!

Laugh, dance, get some fresh air, play a game and enjoy the company of others. The special memories with friends and family are what really matter, not the food.

It’s a Party, But Don’t Overdo It

Savor your favorite holiday treats by eating slowly, and really enjoy the recipes that you might only have once a year. Make room for dessert if you like by cutting back on another carbohydrate during your main course. And, be reasonable with your portions – less is more when it comes to anything decadent.

Bring What You Like

Try not to worry about what will be served. Offer to bring your favorite dish to share and make it healthy one so you know you will be able to enjoy yourself.

Try a Healthy Recipe Twist

For the main course, use spices and fresh produce to deliver the flavor instead of oils and salts. Time for dessert? Try baked apples with cinnamon and a sprinkle of sugar instead of apple pie. Or, look for baking recipes that use unsweetened applesauce instead of butter or oil to cut the calories.

Cheers to good health

Stay hydrated with plenty of water to aid digestion and keep your skin looking its  best for holiday photos. Skip the calorie-packed sodas and drink mixers and quench your thirst with low-calorie options like water with lemon, lime or orange slices; unsweet tea or seltzer water with a splash of 100% fruit juice. If you choose to drink alcohol, remember to drink in moderation.

Stay Active
The holidays can be a hard time to manage your weight or conditions like diabetes, but incorporating physical activity into your traditions can make it easier.  Start a pick-up game in the yard, go for a walk before and after a big meal with your family, sign up for a community walk or run or help clean up after the party to keep yourself moving.

Overindulged? Get Back on Track

​If you eat more than you planned for, don’t worry. Just turn your focus on spending the rest of your time with the people around you. Maybe go for a walk and make sure to eat extra healthy the next day.

For more information on eating healthy and managing your health, click here.