Obesity and the chronic conditions related to obesity pose the most costly public health challenge in this country. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the US spends more than 150 billion dollars on medical care costs associated with this disease.
Over the last 50 years, Florida has seen an exponential increase in overweight and obesity rates. In the Sunshine State, a mere 36 percent of adults are at a healthy weight and many health and wellness professionals believe that is an underestimate. If we remain on our current trend, nearly 60 percent of Floridians will be obese by 2030.
The chance of an obese child becoming an obese adult increases from 20 percent at age 4 to 80 percent by adolescence. Furthermore, today’s generation of overweight and obese children could be the first generation to have a shorter life span than their parents.
Obesity is a multi-faceted public health issue. Through the combined efforts of public health, education systems, healthcare institutions, and community at large, obesity can be properly addressed across the state of Florida.
To address and curb the obesity epidemic, several counties in our state are utilizing a healthy lifestyles message across different sectors in their communities. This message is dubbed “5210” and it is an evidence-based healthy lifestyle message that has been used in other states around the county to address healthy choices by youth and adults, alike.
5210 is a set of four simple everyday goals that can be used in schools, workplaces, community centers and health care facilities to help children and adults make good choices. Here is the message in a nutshell:
School-aged children watch more than 5 hours of television a day. Those of us who work in an office or at a desk spend more than 9 sedentary hours in front of a screen. Too much screen time is associated with an increased prevalence of overweight and obesity, lower reading scores, and attention problems. Try to limit screen time to 2 hours per day. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children under age 2 shouldn’t have any television.
Daily physical activity is essential for weight maintenance and prevention of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer, and osteoporosis. Children who are raised in families with active lifestyles are more likely to stay active as adults. Aim for 1 hour of rigorous physical activity, at least 5 days a week.
Sugary beverages are prevalent and well-advertised. High intake among children is associated with overweight and obesity, displacement of milk and water consumption, and dental cavities. Say “NO” to sugary beverages. Instead, aim to quench thirst with water, non-fat milk or plant-based milk such as almond, rice, or soy milk.
A diet rich in vegetables and fruit provides vitamins and minerals, which are important for supporting growth and development, and for optimal immune function. Among adults, 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables is associated with lower rates of chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and diabetes. Aim for 5 or more handfuls of fruit and vegetables each day.
For more information about 5210 or to learn how you can make it a part of your workplace or school environment, email Ro Mohamed, Health and Wellness Consultant for Community Health Improvement Partners, LLC at ro.CHIP4Health@gmail.com.
Ro Mohamed, MHS
Workplace Wellness, School District of Manatee County Ro manages the employee wellness programs for the School District of Manatee County, which influences of a workforce of nearly 6000 employees and more than 4800 insured lives. Ro also serves as a Community and Corporate Wellness Programs Consultant and her work spans across multiple sectors in the fields of community health and chronic disease prevention. Ro has a strong professional background in health promotion, program design and management, group facilitation, and community engagement.
Ro received an Honors Bachelor of Science in Physiology and Anthropology from the University of Toronto, a Bachelor of Education in Health & Environmental Science from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education/Uni-
versity of Toronto, and a Master in Health Studies & Health Promotion from the University of Alabama.
Certified by the National Wellness Institute as a Certified Worksite Wellness Specialist (CWWS) and Certified Worksite Wellness Program Manager (CWWPM), Ro’s knowledge and skill set supports her ability to effectively shift gears to meet the needs of her audience – from individual behavior change, to comprehensive program design, to organizational culture change.
Through her work at the local and state level, Ro aims to influence the overall health of communities by addressing several high impact areas and the barriers to them. Those areas are: healthy eating, physical activity, illness prevention, injury prevention, support for breastfeeding, tobacco cessation, drug-free living, and stress management.