Walking Fights Obesity





Special to the Outlook

For big problems, like obesity in America, solutions can come in small steps like the “walking school bus.”

Walking to school has always been good exercise for kids but now it’s not as safe as it once was. Parents throughout the United States are discovering if they lead walks to school and pick up kids along the way, walking to school can make a comeback.

This was just one of the programs discussed at the 8th annual Southern obesity Summit in late 2014 in Louisville, Kentucky. www.southernobesitysummit.org.

Michelle Smith, Texas-based director of the Southern obesity Prevention Strategy & Summit, said some 350 participants from primarily government, health institutions and academia are expected to gather to learn new anti-obesity strategies and report on the progress of ongoing programs.

Participants considered recruiting mayors to lead some “walking school buses” to gain community attention for this program. They could discuss how to find funding to improve sidewalks, and street lighting.

The obesity strategy and summit was organized around states in the South because statistics last year show the South has the highest prevalence of obesity (30.2 percent), followed by the Midwest (30.1 percent), the Northeast (26.5 percent), and the West (24.9 percent). The most obese are African American women over age 20. Their obesity rate is 57.6 percent compared to 37.9 percent in African-American men over age 20.