Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Clinton County's obesity rate falls after years of foundation-funded program for improvement of the community's health

Five years ago, the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky gave the Clinton County schools the first installment of a $400,000 grant to help improve the county's health status, with emphasis on children. Now, in the last year of the grant, foundation and school officials say it has helped children achieve a healthier weight and reduced the county's overall obesity rate.

"The obesity rate in Clinton County has improved so much that we no longer qualify for a CDC grant we had been receiving for the past three years, and using collaboratively with the Healthy Hometown Coalition," Dr. Paula Little, assistant superintendent of schools, chair of the coalition and a director of the foundation said in a foundation press release.

Little said she didn't know the rate, just that it had fallen below the 40 percent required for the grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's High Obesity Program, which through the University of Kentucky promotes healthy eating and active living in Clinton and five other counties: Elliott, Letcher, Lewis, Logan and Martin.

Albany Mayor Nicky Smith, vice-chair of the Clinton County coalition, said "We have seen positive changes in community activity and awareness of health issues. I feel that our children have benefited from improvements in healthy eating and physical activity that they will carry with them throughout their lives."

The coalition has spent grant money on "walking paths, playgrounds and other spaces to provide more places where children can be physically active," said the press release, which has a complete list of grant activities. "The coalition has increased physical education and added programs in the schools to increase classroom movement, expanded nutrition programs, and supported policy changes to ensure increased physical activity and better nutrition for area students."

"The Clinton County coalition is a great example of a community coming together to identify a significant local health issue and develop a comprehensive plan to make an actual, measurable improvement," said Ben Chandler, president and CEO of the foundation.

The Clinton County grant was one of seven in the foundation's $3 million "Investing in Kentucky's Future" program, focused on children. "We'll be taking what Clinton County and the other six IKF grantee communities have learned and sharing it all over the state," Chandler said, "so other local health coalitions can implement in their own areas what has proven successful here."

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