The numbers are startling. Since 1988, the obesity rate in Iowa has increased from 14 percent to 32 percent. Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health reports that by the time today's kids are 35, half will be obese. Obesity continues to be one of the costliest conditions among health insured consumers in Iowa.
These problems are not unique to Iowa. The U.S. is experiencing an unsustainable disease burden; more than 133 million Americans, or 45 percent of the population, have at least one chronic condition. Chronic diseases are the leading cause of death and disability in the U.S. Iowa’s statistics are particularly troubling – we rank No. 39 for obesity and No. 28 for inactivity.
When a problem looms large, such as the state of our health, we can do two things: 1) Sit back, do nothing and wait for things to deteriorate further, or 2) We can get moving, get healthy and take back our well-being. Live Healthy Iowa is committed to acting and making Iowa the healthiest state in the nation. Like us, you may have your own health goals. Whether you want to run a 5K with your daughter, play on the floor with your grandkids, or have your clothes fit better – achieving these goals starts by getting moving.
In many ways, we live more stressful lives than we did decades ago. Families are under pressure to earn more, kids participate in an abundance of activities, healthcare costs are skyrocketing, and even though chronic health conditions are on the rise, people are living longer – but not necessarily better. Nearly 25% of women and 18% of men cope with their stress by eating more. The good news is that over half say they are exercising more, and this is where a healthier lifestyle begins.
It’s imperative we get moving more, which is why we’ve created Live Healthy Iowa’s Active Index. The Active Index is a measurable county-based tool geared toward encouraging Iowans – of all ages and activity levels – to engage in healthy and active opportunities. Rankings in the Active Index are based on county members’ level of participation in four of Live Healthy Iowa’s challenges and events during the calendar year – 10 Week Wellness Challenge, Live Healthy Iowa 5K, The Next Step Challenge and Kid’s Fall Fitness Day/Healthiest State Walk as well as the Summer Iowa Games and Winter Iowa Games, which are hosted by the Iowa Sports Foundation.
When individuals care more about their health, it often extends to family, friends and neighbors – people within one’s community – contributing to a healthier and more active state. We want to improve the overall health of Iowans and every single person matters.
Since 2002, Live Healthy Iowa has helped more than 339,000 participants shed over 1.2 million pounds and log nearly 661 million minutes of physical activity through its annual 10 Week Wellness Challenge, which begins in January again this year.
We can’t afford to keep putting our health on the back burner. Iowa leads the nation in many things, and we have momentum on our side as being a place people want to live, work and raise a family. It’s time we start leading the nation in positive health statistics before we each become a statistic ourselves.