Target: Obesity in Cobb
by Jon Gillooly
October 06, 2012 01:52 AM | 5886 views | 3 3 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dr. Jack Kennedy, district health director Cobb and Douglas Public Health, completes his work, left, while on the treadmill. <br>Staff/Laura Moon
Dr. Jack Kennedy, district health director Cobb and Douglas Public Health, completes his work, left, while on the treadmill.
Staff/Laura Moon
Kennedy grimly reports that today’s children may live shorter lives than their parents because of the high obesity rate.<br>Staff/Laura Moon
Kennedy grimly reports that today’s children may live shorter lives than their parents because of the high obesity rate.
Staff/Laura Moon
MARIETTA — Two-thirds of Cobb County residents are overweight, and for the first time in the nation’s history, today’s children may live shorter lives than their parents, said Dr. Jack Kennedy, district health director for Cobb & Douglas Public Health.

To reverse that trend, a new program, called the Cobb2020 Partnership, aims to reduce the obesity rate in Cobb County by 5 percent over the next five years.

“Most of the chronic diseases that are killing and disabling people in this country — heart disease, diabetes, stroke, cancer, to name a few — are highly correlated with weight,” Kennedy said.

The program, which is being led by Kennedy and Cobb Schools spokesman Jay Dillon, is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has already awarded it $1 million with the possibility of receiving another $1.5 million, Kennedy said.

Cobb2020 has conducted a health assessment of county residents, and program leaders are now developing a plan to encourage the community to adopt healthier habits.

“There have been other health initiatives over the years led by the Chamber or other groups, and I’m sure that those were useful, but to engage the number of high-level stakeholders for a very lengthy period of time … is no small task,” Kennedy said.

The Cobb2020 Partnership will focus its health improvement strategies on healthy lifestyles, including healthy weight, physical activity, nutrition and tobacco prevention; and access to health services, including low-cost resources and health screenings.

Chief Deputy Sheriff Lynda Coker, who is on the program’s steering committee, said it will take community buy-in for the program to work.

“If the message meets their demands, they’ll buy in. If it’s just one more thing, they won’t buy in,” Coker said. “We’ve learned a lot in the last 25 to 30 years about the things that can seriously adversely impact your health, and now it’s our job to get that communication out there and hope that the next generation makes some improvements.”

First lady Michelle Obama, who has taken up the cause of childhood obesity prevention, has received some criticism from conservatives on the ground that she is promoting a “nanny” state.

But this is a pocketbook issue, Kennedy said.

“If you don’t care about your own health, do you care about your insurance premiums?” he asked. “Do you care about the fact that none of us can afford what health care’s costing us these days?”

Kennedy, who spends the first hour and a half each morning on a treadmill in his office that he brought from home as he sifts through his email inbox, said he views himself as pretty conservative.

“So I am completely on board with the idea that personal responsibility is important, and frankly, without people taking some personal responsibility for themselves, there’s not a whole lot we can do successfully,” he said. However, “as director of the health department, it’s my job to be looking at people’s health status in the county and give them the best possible advice that I can give them, so what kind of health director am I, or what kind of person am I, if my friend is standing on the railroad track and I see a train coming down the railroad track and I don’t tell them there’s a train coming?”

The program will launch with an invitation-only event at the Strand Theatre on Thursday. Speakers include Attorney General Sam Olens; WSB’s Condace Pressley; Dr. Judith Monroe, CDC deputy director; Dr. Ursula Bauer, director of the National Prevention Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion; and comedian and author Scott Davis.
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Char. KM
October 07, 2012
I think this is a excellent start to this epidemic. It's past time to take this issue to another level. Great to see the high level stakeholders take interest and a new over due. Encourage walking and exercises you can do with out equipment. Encourage communities to build more sidewalks and parks. Focus on breaking the cycle...start in the schools with the young kids. There are a few deterants in place but not very effective.

Also; a lot of the people that need to be reached do not have health insurance and their health disparities are numerous; so they don't really care about insurance premiums. You have to focus on the groups that have the biggest potential to fall by the waste side and end up in the ER's($) routinely for care of health issue's most likely caused by poor diet and obesity. So while people do need to take responsibility for their own health habits....It's not realistic for most. It's like telling a drug addict the same thing. They want to do the right thing but can't. I'm just pointing that your group needs innovative (out of the box)ideas.

Great Article
Lib in Cobb
October 06, 2012
This program is very similar to the program promoted by First Lady Michelle Obama,for that she was criticized. It's nice to see that the GOP of Cobb County had the creativity to duplicate the same program. I will call that "two faced".
October 06, 2012
Lib in Cobb (aka Kevin Foley) you've got to be kidding on the programs promoted by Michelle Obama. That's called meddling and I don't want anyone telling me how to eat or how my kids should eat. I certainly don't want the government forcing me to purchase their expensive and 'healthy' alternatives when all you have to do is read the controversial situations across the country that these control freaks are causing. And excuse me, but until Michelle gets her enormous behind onto a treadmill, I wouldn't take her 'health advice' seriously for all the New York Big Gulps and milkshakes in the world. Oh...but she has nice arms.
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