Tag Archives: obesity

2014 Chatham County Community Health Report now Available!

It’s been over a year since we started the 2014 Community Health Assessment, and we are excited to announce that the final report has been completed! The report, which was approved by the Board of Health last month, has been submitted to the NC Division of Public Health for review. For the first time, the Chatham County Public Health Department and Chatham Hospital conducted the CHA as a collaborative effort.

Click the image above for the full report

Click the image above for the full report

The full report and the executive summary (English and Spanish) can be downloaded at www.chathamnc.org/reports. Printed copies of these documents will also be available at the health department’s Siler City and Pittsboro sites, Chatham Hospital, local libraries, and other locations around the county.

The purpose of the Community Health Assessment, or CHA, is to foster a better understanding of the health needs of Chatham County residents. The CHA process is used to establish health priorities for the next three years and culminates in an action plan to address these priorities. The CHA helps local agencies and organizations working on health issues to plan and coordinate their efforts, and to ensure that the most pressing health concerns are being addressed.

So, what are the health priorities for the next three years? After months of collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data, the Steering Committee established these three health priorities for the county:

  • Obesity
  • Access to Mental Health Services
  • Access to Healthcare

For more information about these, and other, health issues in Chatham, check out the report and/or executive summaries.

While this is the end of the assessment phase of the process, the work is no where near complete. The newly formed Chatham Health Alliance will determine strategies to address these issues locally, and then work collectively to enact those strategies. If you would like to learn more about the Alliance, contact Mike Zelek at michael.zelek@chathamnc.org.

We would also like to thank the many volunteers who made the process a success, including Steering Committee members, data collection volunteers, and the hundreds of county residents who shared their perspectives through surveys and focus groups. We could not have done it without you!


Are We Physically Active Enough?

“We need to make the healthy choice the easy choice,” State Health Director Dr. Jeff Engel said. “By creating communities where people can be more physically active wherever they are, we will reduce the burden of obesity and chronic disease that is so costly to our state.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released data that shows many adults in North Carolina are not physically active other than daily tasks they perform for their jobs. In 2008, the CDC estimated that nearly 21% of adults Chatham County are physically inactive- not doing any kind of physical activity in their leisure time. During that same year, the CDC identified 25.8% of Chatham County adults as obese. 

State leaders are looking to change trends like these in counties across North Carolina. The North Carolina Division of Public Health (DPH) received a $3 million grant from the CDC in 2009 for a Healthy Environments Initiative. The project will address the complex issue of built environments by identifying needs and barriers to healthy environments. 

As part of the grant, DPH is partnering with 11 municipalities across the state, as well as the N.C. Department of Transportation, the N.C. Department of Commerce and the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources to create a picture of the policies and realities that have helped form the current state of health. 

The state is also working on a public information campaign to educate North Carolinians on the effect that built environments have on our overall health and lifestyles. The campaign will launch statewide in April and ask state residents to act to shape a better built environment for their communities. 

For more information on the state’s Built Environment Policy Initiative Grants Program, please go to http://www.ncdhhs.gov/pressrel/2010/2010-8-3-healtycitygrants.htm.


F as in Fat 2010

Americans are continuing to get more obese. This is according to the F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future  report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Trust for America’s Health. The report finds that “Adult obesity rates climbed in 28 states during the past year and now exceed 25 percent in more than two-thirds of the states, with rates higher among Blacks and Latinos.” 

That is a sobering thought. Even more so is that North Carolina is tied for 10th in the nation for highest obesity rates. Approximately 29.4% of North Carolinians are obese. The report also finds that “adult obesity rates for Blacks are greater than or equal to 30 percent in 43 states and the District of Columbia. In nine states, the rates exceed 40 percent.” (In North Carolina, this figure is 41.1%). Other trends include that “nine of the 10 states with the highest rates of obese children are in the South, as are nine out of the 10 states with the highest rates of poverty.”

Most Americans know that obesity is a major health issue. In fact, the reports states that approximately 80 percent of Americans think that childhood obesity is a problem. Instead of thinking that this problem is too big to deal with, there are many things that can be done to reverse the obesity trend. 

Efforts have been made in the last several years to try and curtail the obesity epidemic in Chatham County. Examples from initiatives at the Chatham County Public Health Department are: 

  • Active Chatham  hosts an annual Reindeer Run 5K. All proceeds are used to enhance facilities for physical activity in Chatham County.
  • The School Health Program works with Chatham County schools to support the Chatham County Public Schools in providing quality health education programs and health promotion activities and healthy school environments for Chatham County Schools’ staff, students, and families.
  • Healthy Chatham’s Obesity Task Force worked with Bennett School during the 2009-2010 school year by helping staff implement an incentive-based wellness challenge.
  • Grants from Eat Smart, Move More NC and the Health and Health and Wellness Trust Fund will allow the health department to partner with schools, the community, and other organizations to provide environments that encourage healthy lifestyles.
  • The health department has been working with three childcare centers to implement the Nutritional and Physical Activity Self-Assessment for Childcare (NAP-SACC) program. The evidence-based program helps preschools make healthy changes in food served to children and increase physical activity.
  • The Chatham County Board of Commissioners has approved a new Obesity Prevention Coordinator position in the 2010-2011 budget that will focus on reducing childhood obesity in Chatham County.
  • Numerous other organizations in the county also have obesity prevention initiatives.

Eliminating the obesity epidemic will require a call to action not only from public health but also from individuals, communities, schools, churches, workplaces, businesses, and governments nationwide. 

Please go to the following link for the full F as in Fat 2010 report- http://www.rwjf.org/files/research/20100629fasinfatmainreport.pdf


What Should We Do About Obesity in Chatham County?

You’ve probably heard the statistics about 2/3 of Americans being overweight or obese. This problem doesn’t escape Chatham County. In fact, according to the 2006 Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance Survey, 59.4% of adults in the Chatham/Lee/Moore region were overweight or obese. 

Our kids aren’t doing much better. The 2008 North Carolina Nutrition and Physical Activity Surveillance System (NC-PASS) states that 36.4% of Chatham County children seen in North Carolina Public Health sponsored WIC, child health clinics, and school based health centers were overweight or obese. 

Healthy Chatham coalition took the lead on the Board of Commissioners’ 2010 fiscal year goal of coordinating obesity prevention efforts in Chatham County. 

Healthy Chatham and the Chatham County Public Health Department brought together stakeholders working on and interested in obesity prevention.  Representatives from local government, Chatham Hospital, Chatham County School system, agencies, non-profits, and community members convened for a series of meetings. 

The three meetings were held between July and December 2009. The purpose was to identify existing obesity prevention programs, figure out how to better coordinate efforts, and develop ideas to recommend to the Board of Commissioners. 

As a result of the meetings, stakeholders created four recommendations that would address obesity at multiple levels. 

The recommendations are: 

  1. Establish a New County Position Focusing on Obesity 
  2. Implement a Community Social Marketing Campaigns
  3. Develop Infrastructure to Support Healthy Lifestyles
  4. Encourage More Cooperation between Schools and the Community 

Much more information is included in the full report. Check out the Chatham County 2009 Obesity Prevention Retreat Final Report and Recommendations.