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Childhood Obesity: Partners Helping With Healthy Choices

Some Ohio organizations, restaurants and educational institutions are working to increase access to healthier foods and programs in an effort to end childhood obesity. Photo credit: DodgertonSkillhause/Morguefile.
Some Ohio organizations, restaurants and educational institutions are working to increase access to healthier foods and programs in an effort to end childhood obesity. Photo credit: DodgertonSkillhause/Morguefile.
March 9, 2015

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - Accessing nutritious foods is a challenge for many South Dakota families and some experts say the problem contributes to the obesity epidemic. But businesses in the food industry and various organizations are stepping up to help make the healthy choice the easy choice.

Drew Nannis, chief marketing officer with Partnership for a Healthier America, says some restaurants, food suppliers, community groups and colleges are among those increasing access to healthy food.

"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," says Nannis. "We believe 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. Birdseye, Walgreens and Walmart are among those involved. An estimated one quarter of all South Dakota children ages 10 to 17 are overweight or obese.

Nannis says 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 five percent, because Nannis says 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 services are actually too heavy to serve," Nannis says. "So this is a wide-reaching epidemic."

At the Building a Healthier Future Summit in D.C. last week, national health experts, policymakers and business and industry leaders brainstormed new strategies to help end childhood obesity.

Jerry Oster, Public News Service - SD