City, county join new health campaign

Oct. 08, 2013 @ 03:31 PM

Durham is getting bullish on health and fitness – and 28,000 residents completing 420,000 hours of activity, and losing 280,000 pounds are wanted to lead the charge to meet a new challenge.

Elected officials will join Durham’s health advocates on Monday during a 10 a.m. ceremony at the Durham County Human Service Building to launch “A Healthier Durham.”

The city of Durham and Durham County have partnered to become the first government entities in North Carolina to join the parent “A Healthier NC” campaign, which launched in April.

Obesity and chronic illness are continuing problems in Durham County. According to Durham County’s 2012 State of the County Health Report, 59 percent of adults and nearly one-third of high school students are considered overweight or obese. 

“A Healthier Durham” will play a significant role in addressing these health problems, which align with key objectives in strategic plan health goals for the city and county.

“Durham is honored to be the first city-county government partnership in N.C. to rise to the challenge,” said Gayle B. Harris, director of the Durham County Department of Public Health.  “Recently, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) selected Durham as one of 12 finalists for the RWJF Roadmaps to Health Prize, which honors communities that are transforming health by bringing together partners to improve residents’ health outcomes for residents.  This is yet another example of just how committed Durham is to the health and well-being of its residents.”

The “A Healthier Durham” campaign and challenge provides free health journaling tools, access to a variety of Durham-specific health resources and educational materials and will allow users to submit information about fitness opportunities in proximity to a user’s address at www.ahealthierdurham.com.

Besides providing access to health resources, the “A Healthier Durham” website is designed to aid group participation locally and in the “A Healthier NC” challenge.

“A Healthier Durham” is part of the larger “A Healthier NC” campaign, led by NC SPIN and supported by the following sponsors: N.C. Academy of Family Physicians, N.C. Medical Society, N.C. DHHS Office of Rural Health and Community Care, the AARP Decide.Create.Share campaign, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of N.C.

Tom Campbell, creator and producer of NC SPIN (ncspin.com) and sponsor of “A Healthier NC,” said: “A Healthier NC is about more than just weight loss — it’s about transforming lives. It's an appeal and call to action for all of us to be active participants in our own health. It's encouraging one another to make smarter choices about what we eat, how active we are, and how important it is to take care of ourselves, and the ones we love. We're thrilled that Durham leaders are using the A Healthier NC platform to encourage citizens to strive for improved health.”

The idea for the “A Healthier NC” initiative arose out of concern for the state’s low rankings in reports that measure health on the national and state level. In 2012, North Carolina was ranked 33rd for health by the United Health Foundation’s America’s Health Rankings® (www.americashealthrankings.org/NC/2012). The Be Active North Carolina 2012 Report “Tipping the Scales” (www.ncpreventionpartners.org) also highlights the extent and cost of poor health choices by North Carolinians.

The campaign was also inspired by a 1940s-era campaign called the “Good Health Plan,” which was initiated by N.C. Gov. Mel Broughton to improve health services in the state.