Improving the health of Texans through better eating, exercise

By PATSY GAINES Milam County Health Director

Created in 2006, the Texas Public Health Coalition is a collection of organizations that share an interest in advancing core public health principles at the state and community levels.

In particular, they address the leading causes of death and disability in Texas - obesity, tobacco usage, stroke and cancer prevention - through increased awareness and visibility of Texas' public health infrastructure and level of wellness; meaningful, evidencebased policies and legislation; and the removal of barriers to wellness.

There are 22 members of the Texas Public Health Coalition, such as American Cancer Society, Texas Health Institute, Texas Medical Association and so on.

Their mission is to improve the health of all Texans by advancing, through a unified voice and collaborative actions, core public health principles at the state and community levels.

They stand for: • improving the health of all Texans,

• promoting health and preventing disease,

• Educating people to adopt healthy lifestyles and providing tools that promote personal responsibility.

Texas is suffering from a growing obesity epidemic. More than half of Texas' adults and about a third of our kids are now overweight or obese.

Obesity is linked to debilitating chronic disease and skyrocketing government costs. Reversing this devastating trend demands immediate funding for evidence-based interventions to improve Texans' eating and exercise patterns.

We must target children because overweight adolescents have a 70 percent chance of becoming overweight as adults. Texas simply cannot afford the growing health care costs associated with this population.

Texas ranks 15th in the nation for obesity. More than six out of 10 Texas adults and 32 percent of Texas teens are overweight or obese. Obesity is a modifiable risk factor for multiple chronic conditions including heart disease, high blood pressure, breast and colon cancers, and diabetes - all major contributors to morbidity and mortality.

The prevalence of childhood obesity in Texas already is greater than the U.S. rate, and current projections suggest that by 2040, 75 Percent of Texans will be overweight.

For the 2009 session of the Texas Legislature, the Public Health Coalition's list of "legislative asks" includes funding for minimum standards for physical education in all grades along with other priorities for the well being of the health of all Texans. More information about any of the bills can be found at http://www.legis.

Milam County Health Department

• Local hours—Tues. & Thurs., 9 a.m.-noon & 1-4:30 p.m. • Phone—Rockdale office: 512-446-4026. Cameron office: 254-697-7039. • Web site: www.milamhealth. com.

Provides immunizations, TB tests, a well-child clinic, septic inspections, vision and hearing screenings, blood pressure checks, diabetes screening, STD tests, indigent health care applications, food handlers inspections.

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