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Miss. Receives Federal Money for Obesity Campaign

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 22 Jul 2013 09:47pm | comments

For the first time, Mississippi is getting federal money specifically intended to combat obesity.  Mississippi faces an uphill battle because two-thirds of residents are overweight or obese.

 The federal government is giving the Mississippi department for health $8.5 to craft a public health campaign specifically targeted at fighting obesity.

 State health officer Dr. Mary Currier says obesity has been an issue in other public health campaigns but this is the first time it will be the main focus of the campaign.

 "We have not gotten specific obesity funding before because the grants are competitive and we have not written a grant that CDC wanted us to write so they could fund us," Currier said.

 Obesity is seen as one of the top health concerns for the state as data piles up about the negative short and long term health impacts of being overweight.

 Currier says the biggest goal of this campaign will be to get Mississippians to actually do something to change their weight, but also to make that choice the easy one.

 "Mississippi has much poverty that the folks are most at risk have the least access to health food and a place they can exercise. So we are trying to improve access to those two things," Currier said.

 University of Mississippi public relations professor Robin Street says the state has a big challenge ahead building an effective anti-obesity campaign.

 First, Street says the state will have to target overweight and obese people in a busy media market and then convince them to take action to change their body.

 "Taking that action is going to be painful and hard. So how can we convey that it is important enough to go the suffering you are going to take to exercise, to diet, to change your eating habits. How can we convey that that is going to be worth it in the end," Street said.

 Street says one guide could be the campaign against tobacco which has successfully helped cut smoking rates in half.






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