|Parents Can Help Solve Obesity Problems.|
Effort to 'Shape Up Houston' starts at the Medical Center
By Cindy George
Updated 11:36 p.m., Wednesday, April 18, 2012http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/Effort-to-Shape-Up-Houston-starts-in-the-3493043.php
"There's a new plan to help Houston beat the bulge that earned us the "Fattest City in America" distinction again this year.
Shape Up Houston, an effort to address the obesity epidemic in the Bayou City, kicks off Thursday with a "health rally" in the Texas Medical Center.
The project was conceived by businessman Lan Bentsen, who lost 25 pounds last year and has become an anti-obesity evangelist who doesn't sugar coat - for obvious reasons.
This isn't about gimmicks, but strategies to help change lifestyles through exercise and better nutrition, Bentsen said. And while his ultimate target is childhood obesity, he believes no effort can solve that problem without dealing with the two-thirds of Texas adults who are overweight or obese.
"It's really hard to fix a kid if you've got an obese parent at home," Bentsen, son of the late U.S. senator from Texas and Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen, recently told the Houston Chronicle editorial board. "What I see is an opportunity to change the dialogue of this city and its perception of what is healthy and what is allowable. It's going to involve a lot of impolitic discussions. At some point in time, we're going to have to start saying 'People are fat. We've got to do something about it.' "
According to 2009 estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Harris County has about 800,000 obese adults - and that doesn't count another million who are overweight. Being too heavy opens the door to chronic conditions including heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes.
Support for program
Bentsen approached hospital CEOs and gained support for Shape Up, which will start with the 92,500 people who work in the Medical Center. A University of Texas School of Public Health study evaluating the outcome of the first six months of the initiative will focus on programs at The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, The Methodist Hospital, Texas Children's Hospital, St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital-Texas Medical Center and Memorial Hermann - with more than 40,000 employees combined.
"It's the first time the TMC wellness coordinators have collaborated on this scale," said Sherry Fultz, assistant vice president of human resources at Texas Children's. St. Luke's CEO Margaret Van Bree said she views Shape Up "as an incentive - a way of leveraging some of the work we've already done."
Bill Baun, wellness officer at M.D. Anderson, where 400 employees bike to work, said he believes Shape Up will make a difference for Medical Center employees and the Houston community.
"It's very exciting to think that the largest medical center in the world is stepping up and saying we can be healthy together," he said.
Individually, the institutions have robust worker wellness programs offering everything from on-site medical clinics, health assessments, fitness centers and personal training to massage therapy and wellness coaching as well as management programs for stress, hypertension, diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
Shape Up initiatives will include walking maps outlining routes of 1, 2 and 3 miles in the Medical Center, "no fry days" to help folks avoid fried food and "rethink your drink" campaigns promoting beverages with less sugar and fewer calories.
"To help create healthier employees and a sense of well being helps us all," said Michele Hunnicutt, director of Methodist Wellness Services.
On Monday, Memorial Hermann offered its first day of on-campus exercise classes for employees. The 12 options every week include yoga, kickboxing, a walking club and Zumba, a fitness program inspired by Latin dance moves.
"This is a great way for us to show our employees that we want to advance their health and to try to get employees to be engaged and take care of themselves," said Cathy Montgomery, Memorial Hermann's clinical nutrition director and wellness program leader, who joined the Zumba class.
Other Shape Up partners include the Harris County Hospital District and Baylor College of Medicine.
Bentsen's challenge to the Medical Center: "Can they demonstrate a long-term healthier lifestyle to the city of Houston?"
Last year, Texas Comptroller Susan Combs reported that businesses in the state spent $9.5 billion in 2009 because of obesity in direct health insurance costs and indirectly as a result of absenteeism, reduced work productivity and disability.
Through a new organization called Shape Tomorrow, Bentsen said he plans to approach business, faith and nonprofit leaders later this year, then officials at school districts to specifically address childhood obesity."
Can you think of a better name than "Shape Tomorrow" ? This movement can certainly help to stop the childhood obesity problems in America!No more staying away from work,No more low productivity,No more disability!