It's hard to find the time to exercise and eat right, but the devastating impacts of obesity on an individual's future are avoidable with small lifestyle changes, reports the Michigan Department of Community Health.
The department launched the new MI Healthier Tomorrow campaign today aimed at helping people make the changes to impact their future today by asking Michigan residents to pledge to lose 10 percent of their body weight.
After Gov. Snyder charged the Michigan Department of Community Health with reducing the state's obesity rate, the department hosted an obesity summit in 2011.
Nearly 500 participants from around the state gathered to identify key priority strategies. One of the recommendations, which then became a strategy in the Michigan Health and Wellness 4 x 4 Plan, was development of one consistent statewide public awareness campaign to reduce obesity.
MI Healthier Tomorrow is that statewide message and initiative.
Michigan has one of the highest obesity rates in the nation; 32 percent of adults and 17 percent of youth are obese.
Obesity is about more than "just being overweight." Obesity directly impacts a person's overall health and is the root cause of many chronic illnesses, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. It also takes a toll financially.
The Michigan Health and Wellness 4 x 4 Plan includes:
Practicing four key healthy behaviors:
- Maintain a healthy diet.
- Engage in regular exercise.
- Get an annual physical examination.
- Avoid all tobacco use.
Being aware of four key health measures that are closely tied to several chronic diseases:
- Body mass index (BMI).
- Blood pressure.
- Cholesterol level.
- Blood sugar (glucose) level.
"Out of all of the messages we explored, the theme that focused on the very serious, very real consequences of obesity was the one that consistently resonated with people," said James K. Haveman, director of the MDCH. "We know we need to take action now to help Michiganders create a healthier tomorrow. This campaign will not only raise awareness, it will also provide people with the tools necessary to make real change."
MI Healthier Tomorrow encourages Michiganders to pledge to lose 10 percent of their body weight. There is strong evidence that a 10 percent weight loss is a reasonable and achievable goal that can significantly improve physical and mental health.
After taking the online pledge, residents who provide a mailing address will receive a free Getting Started Kit that will help guide them on their weight loss journey.
Additionally, those who provide an email or mobile phone number can sign up for healthy texts and/or emails with motivational messages, reminders, tips, and recipes to help keep them focused on losing weight and becoming healthier.
MI Healthier Tomorrow is working with a wide array of partners across the state to encourage Michigan residents to take the pledge for a Healthier tomorrow.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Huntington Bank, Hylant, McDonalds, Mercy Health System, Michigan Association of Broadcasters, Michigan Chronicle, Rockford Construction, and YMCA have already signed on.
In order to create a consistent statewide message that reaches every Michigan resident, MI Healthier Tomorrow will continue to recruit partners.
"BCBSM is pleased with the efforts of the Department of Community Health and Governor Snyder to address the need for a healthier Michigan, and are proud to support the healthy living goals of the MI Healthier Tomorrow initiative," said Mark Cook, Vice President of Government Affairs for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.
Currently in Michigan, some 800,000 children and 5 million adults have a weight problem.
A 10 percent weight loss for those who are overweight can improve blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels, improve heart health, decrease risk of Type 2 diabetes, and strengthen the immune system.
Losing 10 percent also can decrease back and joint pain, improve breathing and sleep, increase energy and stamina and improve mood and self-confidence.
"The YMCAs of Michigan fully support MI Healthier Tomorrow and are ready to be active partners in giving all Michigan communities healthy choices and the support to pursue healthy lifestyles," said Fran Talsma, MSW, Project Director, State Alliance of Michigan, YMCA. "From Marquette to Monroe, Port Huron to Benton Harbor, the Y is for Healthy Living, and looks forward to Michigan's Healthier Tomorrow."
In 2008, Michigan spent an estimated $3.1 billion on obesity related medical costs.
If the current trend continues, it's estimated that by 2018 Michigan will spend $12.5 billion on obesity related medical. Additionally, it's estimated that by reducing obesity by 10 percent, Michigan health care costs could be reduced by roughly $357 million.
"Hylant is proud to join Governor Snyder's initiative of MI Healthier Tomorrow. As part of Hylant's Employee Benefit Consulting division, I see first hand how obesity directly impacts a person's overall health. It not only affects the employees and their families that we meet with and help, but it can translate to increased health care costs to Michigan businesses," said Robert Crisan, Senior Vice President, Employee Benefits, Hylant. "As an organization that has practiced and promoted wellness for over 10 years now, it is our duty to do what we can to help."
For more information about the MI Healthier Tomorrow campaign, including current partners and opportunities, or to take the pledge, visit www.michigan.gov/mihealthiertomorrow.