Smoking, obesity top Okaloosa County health concerns

Published: Friday, April 26, 2013 at 06:02 PM.

A community health plan

To combat the problems, the health department is undertaking several initiatives under the Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP), Cholcher said. Three CHIP work groups were formed to address tobacco use prevention and cessation, and to promote physical activity and proper nutrition to battle obesity. The third group is studying methods of increasing access to health care.

The county's 2013-15 health improvement plan states, “Building a healthier Okaloosa County began as a community-wide initiative with the goal of establishing an ongoing process for identifying and addressing health needs. The intent of this project was to foster successful partnerships within the community in order to improve the health of Okaloosa County residents.

"The Mobilizing for Healthier Okaloosa initiative is composed of representatives from diverse sectors of the community including education, government, health care, business, not-for-profit agencies, and citizens. This group is responsible for developing a Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) that guides the community in addressing health and well-being in our communities.”

Starting off young

The good news is, 61.1 percent of area adolescents receive adequate physical activity, Cholcher's statistics show. Local kids beat the statewide average of 59.4 percent, though the county's goal is for 85 percent of local young people to get enough daily exercise.

There's further encouraging news: 88.7 percent of our middle school students and 87.5 percent of our high school kids are at a healthy weight. Our middle school kids are just about at the state average, while Okaloosa County's high schoolers surpass the state average of 85.7 percent.

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