Radio Column

Asa Arkansas's Governor

Eat Better, Live Better


Column Transcript

In July of this year, Savannah Shields of Fayetteville was crowned Miss Arkansas. Just a few months later, she would go on to earn the title of Miss America. Savannah, or Savvy as she’s commonly known, ran on the platform of Eat Better, Live Better. She decided on her platform of healthy living because of her own difficulty with sleeping and migraines as a result of an unhealthy diet. After changing her diet, Savannah felt noticeably better and was able to improve her focus and get better sleep.

Now that she’s been crowned Miss America, Savvy will spend the next year traveling to promote healthy lifestyle choices in diet and exercise all across the country. 

Savannah’s advocacy for healthy lifestyle choices is particularly relevant here in Arkansas. In a recent survey, nearly half of the Arkansans who responded reported that they consumed less than one serving of fruit per day, and another 30 percent claimed to eat less than a serving of vegetables daily.

Of greater concern, 36 percent of the state’s adult population is considered overweight. This is an area where we must improve. An unhealthy Arkansas is an expensive matter for the people of our state. In fact, those suffering from obesity spend on average $1429 more per year on medical expenses. This issue also hits taxpayers in the pocket, as 40 cents of every dollar spent on healthcare costs are public funds. According to the National Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the medical costs associated with unhealthy lifestyles total $1.2 billion a year in Arkansas alone.

To change this, we launched the Healthy Active Arkansas program. Healthy Active Arkansas is the state’s strategic plan to encourage and empower Arkansans to make healthy lifestyle choices by implementing community based strategies to increase access to healthy food options. One of the ways we are improving access to healthy foods is by promoting the state’s wonderful farmer’s markets. These markets increase the availability of healthy eating options by providing our communities with delicious locally grown food. I encourage you to support our farmer’s markets by finding healthy recipes that incorporate your favorite locally grown produce.  

Healthy Active Arkansas also seeks to increase the opportunities for exercise. One of the ways I enjoy staying active is by playing basketball. In fact, just this morning, I woke up early to play a few pick-up games with a group of early risers on my staff.

As we move into Spring, I invite you to find your own fun ways to get exercise, whether by joining a competitive sports league or playing a pick-up game between friends. While you may not win every game, you cannot lose when you make the right choices when it comes to improving your diet and exercise.