Healthier choices, healthier students

Healthier Lifestyles for SWLA

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - A healthier lifestyle is what the city of Lake Charles, along with local organizations, is encouraging to the people of SWLA.

The city, along with the Department of Health and Hospitals and Calcasieu Parish Food Services Department are working together on a project to end childhood obesity. They will focus on healthier eating habits in schools and more physical activity and education.

Administrator and Medical Director for the Department of Health and Hospitals B.J. Foch said SWLA is failing in terms of physical activity.

"Louisiana is at the bottom of the health rankings, but actually Lake Charles and Calcasieu Parish is actually doing worse than the Louisiana obesity rates," Foch said. The rankings came from the 2009 and 2010 Louisiana Youth Risk Behavior Survey (La. YRBS).

In the 2009 La. YRBS 77-percent of high school students didn't achieve recommendations for aerobic physical activity. Only 23-percent met those recommendations.

And according to the 2011 state health report card, nearly 50-percent of children in La. were overweight. The project supporters hope to educate people about the dangers of obesity.

"Chronic diseases are the leading causes of death and disability in the United States," Foch said. Chronic diseases such as heart disease, respiratory diseases and diabetes.

Based on a 2,000 calorie diet, children should consume four servings of fruit and five servings of vegetables per day. But according to the La. YRBS, only 3.5-percent of high school students ate fruit four or more times per day and 9.7-percent ate vegetables three or more times per day.

Calcasieu Parish Food Services Director Patricia Hosemann said the goals of the project are to get healthier foods in the schools.

"We're incorporating more fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, brown rice, things that we haven't had in our meals before. So, we've made leaps in bounds in the last year and a half," Hosemann said.

Hosemann said they're working on this issue but it'll take more than that.

"It takes the community and it's not just the students, it's the family," she said. "It's the mom and pop that we have to work on as well."

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