Tim Lockette’s recent story helps confirm what many health professionals in Alabama already know: There is no one factor to blame for the obesity epidemic in this state.
It is true that many of our traditional Southern dishes are unhealthy, our portion sizes are getting larger and our “special occasion” meals are becoming more frequent. Many have traded fresh, local ingredients for the convenience of the drive-through. Undeniably, that’s a big factor in our obesity problem.
But when you combine our poor diet with a lack of exercise and higher-than-average percentage of smokers, you have a perfect recipe for poor cardiovascular health. When the United Health Foundation ranked the states according to health factors earlier this year, it was no surprise we finished No. 46 overall, No. 43 in smoking, No. 49 in obesity and No. 49 in cardiovascular health.
What can we do?
There are environmental changes we can make to have a healthier Alabama in the form of public policy. We can and have passed smoke-free legislation to protect the public from secondhand smoke and discourage smoking. We can eliminate trans-fats from all foods served in schools to protect our children from a particularly egregious form of cholesterol. We can and have encouraged folks to get outside and get active. And then there are personal choices and lifestyle changes we can make, too. It can be a personal decision to limit unhealthy foods, quit smoking and commit to physical activity.
The American Heart Association is here to help you and encourage you along the way. That’s why we created MyLifeCheck.org, to help you make that commitment and get started today on a path toward good heart health.
American Heart Association