LCHD program recognizes healthy choice restaurants

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 7, 2004

Four county restaurants may not be wheeling out the fine china dishware any time soon but each will have a new GOLD plate, courtesy of the Lawrence County Health Department.

Sponsored by the county's Heart Health Coalition and Cardiovascular Health Project, the GOLD (Great Options in Lower fat Dining) Plate Restaurant Club recognized three area Subways and the South Point Bob Evans for providing at least two low-fat entrees.

A total of 61 county restaurants were surveyed last year and early this year. Only the Subways in Ironton, Proctorville and South Point and the Bob Evans met the criteria. Maxine Lewis, coordinator of cardiovascular health programs for the department, presented the Ironton Subway with a gold plate award Thursday and plans to visit the others soon.

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"The problem of heart disease has become so great that the health departments on the county and state levels want to see what they can do to decrease the problem," she said. "If we can get people to eat healthier and change their lifestyles, maybe we can do something about the problem."

The statistics are staggering. Heart disease is a leading cause of death and Ohio ranks among the highest.

Across the state, nearly a quarter (22 percent) of Ohio's adults are obese. A total of 37 percent of adults report that they get no physical activity but only 23 percent eat the recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

This data prompted Gov. Bob Taft to initiate the Healthy Ohioans program in 2001. The GOLD Plate Club grew from that initiative.

While she was surprised that so few restaurants in the county offered at least two low-fat options, Lewis said she expects more restaurants to win the award next year.

"So many restaurants are getting the idea that they have to change their menus to reach people and serve things that people are now wanting," she said.

The GOLD Plate club is just one project that the health department is sponsoring to promote healthy lifestyles. Lewis could not stress enough that exercise and stopping smoking are also keys to a healthy heart.