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Fighting Fat by Making Healthy Choice the Easy Choice

PHOTO: A number of organizations, restaurants and businesses operating in North Dakota are working to increase access to healthier foods and programs in an effort to end childhood obesity. Photo credit: FBellon/Flickr.
PHOTO: A number of organizations, restaurants and businesses operating in North Dakota are working to increase access to healthier foods and programs in an effort to end childhood obesity. Photo credit: FBellon/Flickr.
March 6, 2015

BISMARCK, N.D. - Accessing nutritious foods can be a challenge for many families, and some experts say the problem plays a role in childhood obesity - so an effort is under way to make the healthy choice the easy choice.

The goal is to increase the access to healthy options, said Drew Nannis, chief marketing officer for the Partnership for a Healthier America. and various organizations and food-industry businesses are among those helping lead the way.

"We want to make sure that it's as easy as possible getting rid of the barriers such as time, cost and other issues that may be there that prevent people from making the healthier option," he said. "We believe that people know what the healthier option is. We just need to make it as readily available as possible."

The changes include increasing affordability, adding vegetables and fruits to restaurant menus and adopting programs promoting nutrition and physical activity. Among those involved in the program are Subway, SuperValu, Kwik Trip and the University of North Dakota.

Nannis said recent signs suggest a leveling off of what was an escalating rate of obesity for quite some time. The partnership's goal is to bring it down to 5 percent because, Nannis said, childhood obesity leads to a multitude of health problems.

"It's everything from an economic issue where people are having to take sick days and productivity drops to a national security issue. A quarter of the people who are volunteering for our armed forces are actually too heavy to serve," he said. "So this is a wide-reaching epidemic."

More than 15 percent of children age 10 to 17 are obese in North Dakota, according to the most recent research.

More information is online at ahealthieramerica.org and stateofobesity.org/states/nd.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - ND