Less than two years after the Polk County Community Health Assessment listed obesity and weight issues among the major health challenges facing Polk County residents, the state Department of Health is recognizing four cities and the county for their healthy-weight programs.
Lakeland, Winter Haven, Mulberry and Bartow, as well as Polk County, were among 98 municipal and county governments cited last week as Community Champions for implementing policies shown to increase physical activity and improve nutrition.
The Department of Health started the community recognition program in in 2014, pointing to the increased risk obesity has on serious health conditions, including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and cancer.
Statistics from 2013 show that in Florida, 35 percent of adults were obese, 36.4 percent overweight and only 26.4 percent were healthy weight.
The 2015 Polk Community Health Assessment specified that Polk County’s rates were in the lowest quartile in the state in 2013: 36.9 percent were obese, 34 percent overweight and 27.5 percent healthy weight. It further showed that 32.7 percent of Polk County adults were sedentary and only 13.8 percent ate at least five servings of fruit and vegetables a day.
In 2014, the first year of the Department of Health’s recognition program, 38 communities were designated Community Champions, including Winter Haven, Lakeland and Polk County. This is the first year Bartow and Mulberry were recognized.
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