Suffolk campaign targets obesity

Published 8:59 pm Saturday, September 29, 2012

At Constant’s Wharf Public Park and Marina Saturday, residents warm up for the Suffolk on the Move 5K Walk/Run, which helped launch Healthy People, Healthy Suffolk, a campaign to fight the city’s obesity and diabetes problem.

Suffolkians have been issued a challenge: get off the sofa and get healthy.

With one in four children and almost two-thirds of adults in the city either overweight or obese, Healthy People, Healthy Suffolk was launched at Constant’s Wharf Park and Marina Saturday.

Challenging citizens to get healthy, the initiative is a partnership of Obici Healthcare Foundation and the Suffolk Partnership for a Healthy Community.

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Intermittent rain at times sent folks diving for cover, but a large crowd turned out to participate in the Suffolk on Move 5K Walk/Run, helping launch the campaign.

“We’re here because we care about ourselves and we care about each other,” Sam Glasscock, chairman of the foundation board, told the gathering. “You are interested in a good quality of life … and that requires that we think about our health.”

Health statistics for Suffolk are somewhat bleak. In addition to the high number of citizens overweight or obese, according to the Virginia Atlas of Community Health, 8.6 percent of people in Western Tidewater live with diabetes, while the state average is 7.8 percent.

Healthy People, Healthy Suffolk aims to turn the situation around over the coming decade. It was developed over two years by community representatives from schools, churches, health care providers, businesses, the city and other interested citizens, all working together.

Goals include promoting healthy eating and increased access to healthy foods, getting people more physically active, empowering residents to change their neighborhoods and lifestyles, and increasing awareness and building community and financial support.

Looking down from the stage upon an enthusiastic field of walkers and joggers, Glasscock noted, “This is a healthy crowd; I wish we had some other folks who could use the walk a little more than you folks could.”

Mayor Linda T. Johnson said, “There’s not much quality of life if you are not healthy, and that is what this is all about.

“I have always been challenged as far as this goes, and I know that it’s a daily thing to work on.”

Caroline Martin, president of Suffolk Partnership for a Healthy Community, said the initiative is already working, “and the reason it’s working is that you have all made a decision to be a part of it.

“You can walk and you can run, and that’s the important thing, to recognize that daily activity is important to your health.”