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Obesity contributes to deadly problems
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Most Mississippians know obesity can lead to diabetes, but they may not realize it can also increase risks of stroke, asthma, arthritis and some cancers.
Ginger Cross, an assistant research professor in the Mississippi State University Social Science Research Center, is leading a project designed to promote healthy lifestyles in northeast Mississippi. Key components of the project are awareness and education.
“We know from our research that many people in northeast Mississippi are not aware of the full range of issues associated with obesity,” she said.
David Buys, health specialist with the MSU Extension Service, said obesity can affect blood pressure, heart health and cancer risks.
“Obesity is a leading cause of high blood pressure and heart disease,” he said. “Unfortunately, many people don’t realize that it is also associated with certain types of cancer, such as colorectal cancer, breast cancer, and cancers of the endometrium, kidney, thyroid and gallbladder.
“Obesity or overweight issues contribute to almost a quarter of cancer occurrences, which ranks second only to tobacco use,” Buys said. “Obesity has also been linked to an increased mortality risk once cancer is diagnosed.”
Cross is promoting the “WannaBee Healthy?” campaign, sponsored by a Science Education Partnership Award from the National Institutes of Health. The website features links to resources that allow people to determine whether their weights are within healthy ranges and to calculate their body mass indexes.
“We want Mississippians to realize that they can avoid obesity with a healthy diet and physical activity,” Cross said. “Our project encourages people to follow the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recommendation for half our plates to be filled with fruits and vegetables at every meal, and that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week.”
Cross recommended nutrition, exercise and health ideas on the “WannaBee Healthy?” website at http://partnershipsforhealthychildren.com/.