Tag Archives: obesity

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. 

Helping S.C. Communities Increase Access to Physical Activity Opportunities

By Kelly Kavanaugh, MPH, CHES – Active Living Consultant, DHEC Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity 

Being physically active is one of the most important steps that people of all ages and abilities can take to improve their health. In South Carolina, the Active Community Environments (ACE) Special Project is taking action to improve access and opportunities for physical activity throughout the state.

The counties of Barnwell, Colleton, Greenwood, Lexington, Newberry, and Richland were recently recognized by Eat Smart Move More South Carolina and the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control for increasing access to safe physical activity through the ACE Special Project.

ACE Recognition Event

Recognition event celebrating the six counties.

Bikeway in greenwood

A cyclist uses designated crossings in Greenwood.

Some of the project strategies included: installing road signs; creating bike lanes and bike boulevards; improving school safety with fencing and crossing guard equipment; and creating master bicycle and pedestrian plans for future community improvements. The six projects took place from May 2014 – June 2015 and lessons learned will be used to assist other communities that want to create physical activity options for their residents.

“We are so impressed with what these six ACE communities have accomplished and are excited to see their continued progress,” said Lori Phillips, MPH, MCHES, director of DHEC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity. “We are working to implement similar efforts in up to 15 counties across the state.”

The focus of the ACE Special Project was for communities to consider the impact of community design on active living. The program aligns with Step It Up! The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Promote Walking and Walkable Communities. One of the Call to Action’s five strategic goals is to design communities that make it safe and easy for people of all ages and abilities to walk.

The Riverwalk in Cayce improves access to walkable parks and paths,

The Riverwalk in Cayce improves access to walkable parks and paths,

“The Surgeon General’s Call to Action is a landmark event in the ongoing effort to establish promotion of physical activity as a major focus of public health in the United States,” said University of South Carolina professor Dr. Russ Pate, who is also Chair of the National Physical Activity Plan Alliance. “This Call to Action draws attention to the important health benefits of physical activity, in general, and walking in particular.”

Increasing people’s physical activity level can significantly reduce their risk of chronic disease and premature death while supporting positive mental health and healthy aging.

For more information on the ACE Special Project, please contact Kelly Kavanaugh at kavanak@dhec.sc.gov.

Working together to SCale Down

By Cassandra Harris
IMG_2392 copy
With the launch of South Carolina’s Obesity Action Plan in the fall of last year, a new phase of obesity prevention work began in our state.  Supporting this effort, which is being conducted through the SCale Down Initiative, partners from across the state have been working diligently on projects and programs to help move the needle on obesity in SC. Here are some early successes:

Creating Healthier Worksites      

Impacting nearly 35,000 state employees, the new A Healthier State initiative is promoting improved health by providing comprehensive baseline worksite assessments, model policies, and wellness consultation services to the S.C. Governor’s Office, all 16 cabinet agencies, DMH, and DHEC.

Engaging the Health Care Community

The South Carolina Academy of Physician Assistants (SCAPA) recently hosted a video-conference entitled: “A How-To for South Carolina Physician Assistants: Communities & Practices Join the Obesity Fight.”  The event highlighted the 2015 County Health Rankings and the SCale Down Initiative and provide training on the Let’s Go! 5-2-1-0 Childhood Obesity Toolkit.

Assessing Student Fitness

With the help of a $2.5 million grant from the BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation, DHEC is coordinating the statewide implementation of FitnessGram.  Potentially reaching over 740,000 SC public school students, this project will allow students to set their own health goals, help school administrators to make policy choices for physical fitness and offer a place to track student-specific data.

SCale Down is a collaborative initiative that connects and engages partners to achieve the objectives outlined in the state’s Obesity Action Plan and helps eliminate duplication of efforts. If you are interested in learning more about SCale Down or in getting involved in the initiative, please visit www.scaledown.org.

Partners from across the State gathered at the SC Medical Association on March 25, 2015 for a SCale Down Initiative Stakeholder Briefing.