During his welcoming remarks, Arturo Brito, MD, MPH, deputy commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health’s Office of Public Health Services stressed the importance of prevention in the fight to prevent obesity. He noted that the New Jersey Department of Health (NJ DOH) has a responsibility to the citizens to improve environments and support healthy choices, to prevent chronic disease and its high human and financial costs.
“Our goal is to prevent obesity through evidence-based strategies that affect both policy and the environment and help make the healthy choice the easy choice,” said Brito. “This can’t be done without partnerships.” NJ DOH has spent several years building up partnerships through ShapingNJ, a state-wide partnership program created to implement strategies to reduce obesity and its risk factors. “We now have over 230 partners that are working together to create greater impact and success,” said Brito.
He noted that ShapingNJ partners are increasing access to healthy food and opportunities for physical activity through such initiatives as breakfast in the classroom, safer parks and play areas, church and school wellness policies, farmers markets, healthy corner stores, and making neighborhoods more walkable and cyclist-friendly.
“While obesity rates continue to climb for adults and high-school age New Jerseyans, there is a notable decrease in obesity rates in younger children,” said Brito. “For low-income children between 2-4 years, obesity rates dropped form 17.9 percent in 2008 to 16.6 percent in 2011 – one of the largest decreases nationwide, yet still one of the highest rates of obesity in the country for this group.”
Brito stated there is still great concern around high obesity rates, including long-term impacts on health, the risks associated with earlier Type 2 Diabetes diagnosis, and the difficulty of with managing obesity-related disease, rather than preventing it.SHARE: