Governor’s Obesity Initiative Gets Marching Orders

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Wednesday the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) and the Mississippi Community Education Center (formerly Families First for Mississippi) hosted a Taking Charge for a Healthy Mississippi summit of around 150 health professionals and community leaders working to combat the growing number of obese adults and children in the state.

This is the second meeting to be held this year as part of Gov. Phil Bryant’s obesity initiative. The group previously met on May 16, earlier this year.

“The goal for today was to be able to walk away with plans in hand that is proven to reduce obesity,” said MSDH State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs. “I think we accomplished that goal and now have real-life solutions that all the partners can use immediately.”

Dr. Dobbs said partnerships and innovative solutions will be used to create a sustainable, statewide impact to decrease obesity in Mississippi.

 “We need to structure communities to support Mississippians by helping them increase their physical activity and gain access to healthier foods. This can be achieved when a school agrees to open its track to walkers in the community, or a farmers’ market opens carrying fresh fruits and vegetables,” he said.

Summit participants were tasked with identifying the best practices, opportunities and challenges faced while enacting proven projects designed to lower obesity rates across all age groups in Mississippi. The main priority of the summits was to discuss obesity prevention and ways that community-based organizations, traditional health care systems, and government agencies can collaborate to better serve their communities.

“Throughout Mississippi, we are aware that there are great challenges with healthy eating which may lead to obesity and other health disparities,” said Nancy New, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Mississippi Community Education Center. “The obesity initiative will afford great opportunities for communities across our state to significantly influence and impact health and nutrition for generations to come,” she said.

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