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Mississippians prepare to begin life changes
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- A 20-county effort to improve the health of Mississippians is spreading across the state with all programs set to be under way by the end of February.
Organizers for the 12-week Mississippi in Motion project cite the state’s poor health report card as the motivation for this potentially life-changing program.
Jane Clary, health specialist with Mississippi State University’s Extension Service, said Mississippi leads the nation in rates of obesity, cardiovascular deaths and infant mortality. Most adults in the state have at least one of the six major health risk factors, which include smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, being overweight or obese, diabetes and lack of exercise.
MSU’s Extension Service will conduct Mississippi in Motion, which is designed to improve the overall health of participants through key prevention strategies of increased physical activity and improved nutrition. Information on chronic diseases also will be provided. Some communities started their programs in mid-January, and all projects will be under way by the end of February.
“The social support among participants is important in helping people make positive lifestyle changes,” Clary said. “Participants, who must be at least 18 years of age, may form teams of three to five people or choose to take part as individuals in the program.”
The program will kick off in most communities with a health fair where body mass index, blood pressure and in some cases glucose and cholesterol tests are taken to inform people of their current status. Follow-up tests will be taken at the conclusion of the program to document results.
“People who have taken part in this program in the past have significantly increased their fruit and vegetable consumption and increased their physical activity as determined by pedometer usage,” Clary said.
Additional sponsors of the program in 10 Delta counties include the Delta Health Alliance with support from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Health Resources and Services Administration and the Office of Rural Health Policy. In 10 counties outside the Delta, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation is providing support.
For more information on the Mississippi in Motion program, contact the local Extension office or Clary at (662) 325-5014 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.