The Gulf Coast’s fight against childhood obesity
A recent report conducted by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation shows that Mississippi has one of the highest youth obesity rates in the nation, but what services are available to help combat this disease on the Coast?
At 22.3% Mississippi’s obesity rate for children ages ten through 17 is leading the nation. ‘Let’s Go Gulf Coast’ is the main program through the Mississippi Gulf Coast Youth Health Coalition and is here to fight against the disease. ‘Let’s Go Gulf Coast’ Health Educator Cathryn Wineski said, “We partner with organizations in the community to try and make them implement healthy changes. We do interactive health education physical, activity components. We try to just share the message that health can be fun and exciting.”
The program follows a guide that helps all children lead a healthier lifestyle. ‘Let’s Go Gulf Coast’ Director Kelsey Keel makes it her goal to drive their mission. “What we do is have our one simple, healthy message, which is the 5210 Guide and our goal is to let it infiltrate the community with that one simple message, so the more people see it and hear it, the more likely you are to adapt that message into your lifestyle over time.”
Research has shown that the habits kids develop by the age of five are habits they’ll carry with them for the rest of their lives, but the Gulfport Behavioral System provides therapies for obese children to help cope with the mental struggle. Gulfport Behavioral Health System Director of Clinical Services Angie Fields said, “There are a lot of children who are dealing with psychological distress that comes out in their behavior and their eating habits are part of that as well. It can be part of their emotional stress.”
For more information the 5210 guide can be found on the ‘Let’s Go Gulf Coast’ website and for mental health assistance, the Gulfport Behavioral Health System offers a 24 hour a day confidential assessment.