TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – Kansas' top health official has targeted obesity as his main priority for change in the new year, noting there has been steady rise in the number of overweight Kansans over the past 15 years.
Dr. Robert Moser, secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, said he'll also work to get state and local health departments accredited with the American Public Health Association, a status he said will help standardize public health across the state.
Moser told The Lawrence Journal-World (http://bit.ly/rNDz6H ) he's concerned about health issues related to weight gain such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and an increased risk of diabetes.
“The obesity epidemic in Kansas is a complex issue that's going to have to be addressed from a number of different directions,” he said.
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Moser said the state needs to encourage physical activity and healthy food options in schools and workplaces where people spend half of their time.
“Studies are out there in the multitudes that demonstrate a healthy workforce costs a lot less for the employer down the road and increases productivity as well,” he said.
On the accreditation issue, Moser said the APHA has been developing an accreditation process for the past three years for state and local health offices, a process that he hopes will define what core services should be provided and how well they are doing their jobs.
While moving toward accreditation is a voluntary process, Moser believes having accreditation will help departments get grants in the future.
Other goals include increasing collaboration among health care providers, decreasing the state's infant mortality rate, increasing the number of adults and adolescents who are immunized and lowering the number of vehicle accidents.
He's also hoping to find ways to reduce tobacco use.
“There's not a smoker or tobacco user out there that will tell you they don't know that tobacco is bad for them, but finding a way to help them find the willpower, motivation and the ability to quit is going to take a little bit of a different approach over time,” he said. “We all have a role to play in helping those who want to quit.”
Information from: Lawrence Journal-World, http://www.ljworld.com