Metro DetroitJune 11, 2012
State launches initiative to help residents live healthier
By Chris Jackett
C & G Staff Writer
LANSING — One in every three Michiganders is obese. Not just overweight, obese. And the state is stepping up to point its residents in the right direction.
The difference between being overweight and obese is the Body Mass Index (BMI). Calculated by a person’s weight and height, a BMI of 30 or higher is obese, whereas 25-29.99 is overweight.
According to the Michigan Department of Community Health, “32 percent of adults and 17 percent of youth are obese and obesity is the root cause of most chronic illnesses.” Enter the Michigan Health and Wellness 4 x 4 Plan.
Announced June 4 in Ypsilanti, the statewide initiative seeks to help Michiganders get back in shape after spending the past decade on the high end of the nation’s heaviest states list.
“There are nine states with obesity rates over 30 percent, and Michigan is one of them,” said Kevin Sloan, a psychologist with Beaumont Hospital’s Weight Control Center in Royal Oak. “That’s significantly up from 30 years ago when it was 15 percent.”
Sloan added that 70 percent of people are overweight based on the BMI scale.
The 4 x 4 Plan looks to turn that around by focusing on four healthy behaviors and four healthy measures for residents to keep tabs on.
“Just in time for the warm weather, summer sports and gardening, the Michigan Health and Wellness 4 x 4 Plan comes at an ideal time for Michiganders to address their health,” said MDCH Director Olga Dazzo in a release. “While the plan is aimed at reducing and preventing obesity, every Michigander can adopt the 4 x 4 tool which can significantly improve their overall health and wellness.”
The initiative calls for residents to maintain a healthy diet, engage in regular exercise, get an annual physical exam and avoid all tobacco use as four healthy behaviors. Additionally, monitoring your BMI, blood pressure, cholesterol level and blood sugar/glucose level are four healthy measures that are expected to keep Michiganders on the right path.
“People need to find a way to increase awareness of caloric intake and commit to changing that,” Sloan said. “I think, when you say an initiative is encouraging people, you can get health professionals to support this. I think most people rely on their primary care physicians when it comes to things like this.”
Sloan regularly sees how much mental perspective plays a role in the success of healthy lifestyles, whether it is weight loss, lowering blood pressure or simply eating healthier.
“I think a significant percentage of it is attitude and perspective. The behavioral component of that, most people are able to do that,” Sloan said. “Most people who are attempting to address obesity, the best thing they can do is consistency. The problem that often arises is that they stop after a certain period of time. I think a lot of time people are looking for unreasonable results. If the changes are making you feel better or reducing risk factors, (keep doing it).”
An inflated expectation of immediate weight loss at high levels causes many people to simply give up and return to their old ways, Sloan said. And the combination of less labor-intensive work and more unhealthy foods combine to make it much easier for people to casually gain weight than it used to be.
“There’s a tremendous reliance on labor-saving devices, which cuts down movement,” Sloan said. “On an individual basis, there has to be an increase in (movement awareness).”
He suggested using pedometers or calorie-counting websites to track progress, as well as small measures like parking farther from entrances or taking the stairs instead of elevators when the opportunity arises. For those willing to put forth the extra effort, cost-efficient gyms and recreational sport facilities are more common than ever.
“I think the availability of activity resources is always going to be a benefit,” Sloan said. “Often times people have to really create space in their life for a physical activity, especially structured activity.”
For more on the Michigan Health and Wellness 4 x 4 Plan, visit www.michigan.gov/healthy michigan.
For more on Beaumont’s Weight Control Centers in Royal Oak or Rochester Hills, visit http://digestive health.beaumont.edu/weight-control-center.
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