|MANATEE COUNTY, FL (March 21, 2014) – The Florida Department of Health named Manatee County a “Healthy Weight Community Champion”. Thirty seven communities were recognized for their important role in decreasing the prevalence of unhealthy weight within their jurisdictions.|
Research indicates that the #1 public health threat that challenges the bright future of Florida: weight. Currently, only 35% of Floridians are at healthy weight. One quarter are obese, and the rest are overweight. On our current trend, by 2030, almost 60% will be obese. In efforts to change this trend, Healthiest Weight Florida was launched in January 2013. Through the initiative, the Department of Health is building collaborations and providing assistance to counties, community groups and other partners to implement programs that focus on:
- Increasing the initiation, duration and exclusivity of breastfeeding.
- Promoting improved nutrition and physical activity in early care and education.
- Encouraging improved nutrition in schools.
- Increasing the physical activity for students during the school day and after school programs.
- Increasing access to high-quality, affordable foods in communities.
- Increasing physical activity by improving the built environment in communities.
- Promoting health professional awareness and counseling of patient body mass index (BMI).
Throughout 2013, Manatee County focused efforts on addressing many of these initiatives. In 2012, Manatee County government, in partnership with the Department of Health in Manatee County (DOH – Manatee), was awarded an American Public Health Association grant for the implementation of a county-wide Complete Streets Policy to increase physical activity and decrease pedestrian injury. In 2013, Manatee County Board of County Commissioners adopted the proposed “Complete Streets” goals, objectives and policies in the Comprehensive Plan in April 2013. The city of Palmetto, a Manatee County municipality, adopted a similar ordinance later the same year. In 2013, Manatee County formed a coalition of stakeholders to create a joint use agreement between the Manatee County School District and Manatee County government, allowing select school playgrounds to open to the community on holidays and weekends.
When asked about the recognition, Ed Hunzeker, county administrator said, “We live in a community that is filled with a wide array of cultural and environmental amenities and by working to improve the health of our residents we hope to help them live longer lives to enjoy the community in which they live.”
More information on Healthiest Weight Florida, including a list of the Champion Communities and best practices, can