FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Arkansas Governor Launches Plan to Improve Health Across the State
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Oct. 14, 2015) — Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson launched a statewide plan today to improve the health of all Arkansans. The plan, titled Healthy Active Arkansas, contains nine focus areas all tied to increasing the health of Arkansans through healthy dietary choices and increased physical activity.
The nine focus areas are Physical and Built Environment; Nutritional Standards in Government, Institutions and the Private Sector; Nutritional Standards in Schools—Early Child Care Through College; Physical Education and Activity in Schools—Early Child Care Through College; Healthy Worksites; Access to Healthy Foods; Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Reduction; Breastfeeding; and a Marketing Program.
The plan can be viewed and downloaded by visiting www.healthyactive.org.
“Healthy Active Arkansas is about the future of our state,” Hutchinson said. “We want to create a state where all Arkansans can lead healthy, happy and fulfilling lives.”
Hutchinson pointed out the many benefits of improving health outcomes in Arkansas, including benefits to businesses through lower health care costs for employers and employees and increased productivity; lowering the burden of chronic disease treatment, such as obesity and diabetes, on the health care industry; and strengthening the state’s economic development potential by establishing Arkansas as a place with a healthier workforce.
“It’s all connected,” Hutchinson said. “We have more than $1 billion annually just in obesity-related expenses. The more we do to improve healthy lifestyles in our state, the more we reduce costs and the more we improve our workforce and quality of life.”
Arkansas Surgeon General Dr. Greg Bledsoe joined Hutchinson in announcing the launch of Healthy Active Arkansas, and he made a call to action for the entire state to embrace the tenets of the plan.
“For us to achieve the goals set forth in Healthy Active Arkansas, it will require all of us, across all sectors, to work together,” Bledsoe said. “This plan contains recommendations not just for the health care industry, but for businesses, governments, civic organizations and individuals. There’s power in people working together, and that’s what we’re challenging all of Arkansas to do.”
The announcement of the plan comes just weeks after a new study was released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that identified Arkansas as having the highest rate of obese adults in the United States.
“Obesity and related health problems like high blood pressure and diabetes are problems that are plaguing our country,” Bledsoe said. “Arkansas can and will step up to the challenge of reducing our obesity rate and improving the health of our people. Healthy Active Arkansas is the road map that we’ll follow to take on that challenge.”
Bledsoe is leading a consortium that will oversee the plan’s implementation. The consortium includes leaders from the Arkansas Department of Health, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement, the Arkansas Minority Health Commission, Baptist Health and the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute.
One of the consortium’s first tasks is to hire an individual to coordinate the plan’s implementation.
“We hope to begin the search process for that individual soon,” Bledsoe said. “In the meantime, we are laying the groundwork for building relationships with communities, health care providers, nonprofits and others to join with us in this endeavor.”
One such relationship is with the Arkansas Hospital Association, which announced today its endorsement of Healthy Active Arkansas. Troy Wells, CEO of Baptist Health and a member of the Arkansas Hospital Association board, made the announcement.
“Hospitals across the state, both large and small, have an opportunity to be leaders in utilizing Healthy Active Arkansas,” Wells said. “This is an exciting step forward for our state.”
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