Saturday, November 28, 2015

News-Press editorial: Get into the 'health zone'

Thanks to News-Press for its editorial in support of local efforts, led by Healthy Lee and the Blue Zones Project, to promote healthy lifestyles, with an emphasis on the role of the built environment and the importance of complete streets in this effort. The editorial also applauds BikeWalkLee's efforts in support of complete streets.
News-Press editorial Nov. 28, 2015  
 Below are excerpts:

The statistics are alarming and demand our attention: 1  out of every 4 children in the U.S. are too fat to serve in the military. The number of obese and overweight people in this country is pushing 70 percent.

Is there hope these statistics can change and change soon? Yes. We have been encouraged by the efforts of the Healthy Lee initiative, the Million Mile Movement crusade, the efforts of the Lee Memorial Health System to invest so much into health and wellness programs and now the healthy living program rolling out in Collier County called the Blue Zones Project. The city of Naples is investing in the project that has been embraced by 26 U.S. cities. We also are pleased to see that Bonita Springs, Estero, FGCU and Florida SouthWestern State College officials have expressed interest in the project as well.

Investing in healthier lifestyles – finding time to exercise and improving eating habits – should be at the top of everyone’s priority list. This should be a lifetime commitment, starting with parents encouraging their children to exercise and promoting a healthy eating lifestyle. It should continue into the school systems, where healthy breakfasts and lunches are provided and vending machines are loaded with nutrition. It should be encouraged in the work place and made a priority for seniors, either those living on their own or in senior living facilities....

......Healthy Lee and the dedication of those involved with the initiative has been a positive response. Fittingly, the program was recognized in July by America’s Essential Hospitals, winning the 2015 Gage Award for Population Health, which nationally honors activities that improve health outcomes. The latest Healthy Lee cause to promote positive lifestyle changes is the Million Mile Movement, which has encouraged the community to log one million miles by Dec. 29. There are over 1,200 participants in the challenge, but there is plenty of work to be done to reach the goal. As of this week, only 211,000 miles have been logged in the first 60 days, with only a month to go to the deadline. We applaud the efforts of Michael McCullough (1,880 miles), Bob Green (1,759), and Matt Moomaw (1,296), who are the challenge pacesetters.

We also applaud the efforts of BikeWalkLee and the dedication of its members to encourage communities to follow the Smart Streets concept and build streets that not only accommodate vehicles but also paths for cyclists and pedestrians. This not only promotes safe streets but also exercise.

The Blue Zones initiative and the work of Naples Community Health to lead the program also deserves our praise. “We want to get out of the repair business and into the prevention and maintenance business,” Naples Community Health CEO and President Allen Weiss said.

He is right. Encouraging healthy lifestyles now, through programs like Blue Zones and Healthy Lee, can lower the risks of developing diabetes and other diseases. We also applaud the efforts of those on the project’s steering committee and others who have reached out to the low income communities in Immokalee and other areas, as well as faith-based organizations, to encourage their participation as well.

Click here to read the full editorial.

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