Ky. counties receive grant to tackle childhood obesity

Published 9:57 am Thursday, February 25, 2010

ASHLAND, Ky. — Boyd and Greenup counties have been selected as one of only a handful of communities in the country to become part of Action Communities for Health, Innovation, and EnVironmental ChangE (ACHIEVE).

The program, sponsored by the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors (NACDD), is designed to advance community leadership in preventing chronic diseases and related risk factors.

ACHIEVE is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Healthy Communities Program.

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“NACDD is pleased to partner with the Boyd and Greenup counties initiative to support ACHIEVE,” said John Robitscher, executive director of NACDD, because “promoting healthier lifestyles and supporting healthy communities will help us meet our goal of reducing chronic diseases.

“Through community collaboration, we can create a synergy that assists people in making healthy choices where they live, learn, work, worship and play,” he said.

The ACHIEVE approach aims to promote improvements in communities such as increased access to attractive and safe locations for physical activity; increased access to healthy food options at schools, worksites, places of worship and in the community at large; and requirements for sidewalks and crossing signals in neighborhoods to make them more pedestrian-friendly.

The local Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities Coalition is made up of more than 50 individuals from 23 organizations including county and city government, school districts, public health organizations and the medical community.

The ACHIEVE application was submitted by the Kentucky Heart Foundation. “We are excited to join the national effort in developing healthy communities,” said Regina Stout, executive director of the Foundation.

“While our children may not currently suffer from chronic disease, the childhood obesity epidemic has created a situation where they will develop these diseases earlier in life,” she noted. “Because of obesity, the current generation of children may be the first to have a shorter life expectancy than previous generations,” she said.

“Our children deserve a much brighter future than to face heart disease, diabetes and other chronic health conditions so young,” she added.

Steve Gilmore, superintendent of Ashland City Schools and a member of the leadership team, said the local effort “will lead to an effective, efficient myriad of activities with emphasis on healthy food choices, reasonable levels of physical activity, and changing attitudes in how we live.”