Monica Cullinane

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November 8, 2012
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CULLINANE: Obesity, a real problem in Mesa County

Last Friday, Nov. 2, the Mesa County Health Department (MCHD) hosted a community summit meeting to coordinate solutions for a healthier Mesa County.

According to a news release dated Oct. 15, 2012, MCHD director Jeff Kuhr, Ph.D., said, "Through our community health needs assessment process, obesity was identified as a public health issue in Mesa County". Approximately 23 percent of Mesa County adults, ages 18 and over, are obese. Additionally, about 23.7% of Mesa County's children, ages 2 to 14 are overweight.

We know that obesity is a leading cause of death, a risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cancer, depression, liver, kidneys and heart diseases. Obesity is a complex subject involving how the farm food gets to your plate, how to choose and combine food for healthy blood sugar numbers, and whether trails and parks systems exist where you live. Other factors include how aware you are about the risks and consequences of being overweight or obese and how your social circle impacts your health.

One of the Nov. 2 speakers, Christina Miller, the manager for Cooking Matters, a program that teaches families how to cook nutritiously, said that Colorado has the second fastest growth rate of childhood obesity in the nation. For more information on Cooking Matters, contact Maran Parry at 970-248-6904.

Another program, "We Can! Mesa County" for overweight or obese children ages 6 to 18 and their family members, just started last month.

Barb Zind, M.D., is one of the coordinators of "We Can! Mesa County." She says: "The program helps families make lifestyle changes in their diet and activity. Many times children don't need to lose weight because they are growing taller. They can maintain their weight and get leaner as they grow taller. We also want families to make lifestyle changes that can become habits for them, making exercise and healthy eating a regular part of their lives."

Six weekly meetings are held from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at Primary Care Partners, 3150 N. 12th St. You don't need to be a patient of PCP to attend, however, a referral from your child's doctor is needed to start the program. To join the group or for more information, call 970-243-5437 and ask for Western Colorado Pediatric Associates.

Pat Stiles, MSRD, is the health department's Women Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program director. She says that breastfeeding exclusively for six months is one of the best indicators to prevent obesity for mothers and children. Stiles also says that in the whole behavioral field, 95 percent of change is emotional.

To tackle the issue of obesity, we need to get down to what really motivates people to lose weight, by getting to the emotional connection; when you get back the power to control your life, that is when real behavioral patterns change!

An important target area is the school district. Dan Sharp, nutrition services director for School District 51, has been making tremendous changes in the school district nutrition services, and we need more. In my opinion we need to review the wellness policy and we need parents to get involved; we need a demand for health for our kids. We need to get informed on how health and nutrition impact the learning process.

The statistics shows that the tendency to succeed is much higher when you have support and when you are held accountable. Now is the time to stand our ground, join forces and shift these numbers. Together we can H.E.A.L. (Healthy Eating Active Living), a slogan from LiveWell Colorado.

If you care about the health of your kids and want to get involved in this movement, contact me at 970-683-0166 or Together we can make a difference! I am volunteering for the school district Wellness Committee and I need your help.

Monica Cullinane, certified health coach, has a private practice coaching clients on how to reach their goals for health, weight loss and stress reduction. Additionally, she teaches yoga, presents workshops and lectures on living a healthy, balanced life. She is available for a FREE initial consultation at the Integrative Medicine Center of Western Colorado ( Call 970-245-6911 to schedule appointment.

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The Post Independent Updated Nov 8, 2012 02:50PM Published Nov 8, 2012 02:49PM Copyright 2012 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.