Adult obesity rates increased in 37 states in the past year, according to the fifth annual F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies Are Failing in America, 2008 report from the Trust for America's Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). Rates rose for a second consecutive year in 24 states and for a third consecutive year in 19 states. No state saw a decrease. Though many promising policies have emerged to promote physical activity and good nutrition in communities, the report concludes that they are not being adopted or implemented at levels needed to turn around this health crisis.
South Carolina was named the 5th most obese state in America according to the report. The state's adult obesity rate is 29.2 percent, an increase for the third year in a row.
"America's future depends on the health of our country. The obesity epidemic is lowering our productivity and dramatically increasing our health care costs. Our analysis shows that we're not treating the obesity epidemic with the urgency it deserves," said Jeff Levi, Ph.D., executive director of TFAH. "Even though communities have started taking action, considering the scope of the problem, the country's response has been severely limited. For significant change to happen, combating obesity must become a national priority."
This change must begin on a local level here in Spartanburg. Our community needs to become a leader in both the state of South Carolina and on a national level, and Partners for Active Living (PAL) is taking on that challenge.
The history of the organization dates back to 1996 when Mary Black Foundation (MBF) and a number of community partners commissioned a study to determine the greatest health risks facing the Spartanburg community. The study identified five target areas and, based on those results, 4 community task forces were created. One of those was the Cardiovascular Disease Task Force, which in 2000, applied for and received funding from MBF.
The funded community group called itself Heartwise and operated around the specific goal of addressing the dramatic rise in incidents of cardiovascular disease in Spartanburg County. The organization soon realized that increased physical activity and its relationship to the built environment was key to improving the community’s health and that education alone was not enough. Thus, Heartwise changed its name to Partners for Active Living in 2003 and launched multiple initiatives to promote the benefits of a bikeable and walkable community and create new opportunities for being physically active on a daily basis.
Over the last eight years, PAL has developed a comprehensive approach to pursuing our mission. PAL employs three main strategies: advocating active environments, educating the community and its leadership and promoting active lifestyles. The combination of these three major programs is designed to reach all ages, races and genders within the entire Spartanburg County area.