By Kevin Bradley
Obesity rates in the U.S. have increased dramatically over the last 30 years, and obesity is now an epidemic in the United States. In Florida, only 33.9% of adults are at a healthy weight which increases the risk of many serious health conditions including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and cancer. For this reason, the Florida Department of Health and Florida’s county and municipal governments are working together to address obesity through the Healthiest Weight Florida Initiative and the Healthy Community Champions Recognition Program.
The Healthy Community Champions Recognition Program recognizes municipal and county level governments statewide for taking a Health in All Policies approach to comprehensive planning. This approach integrates health considerations into policymaking to improve the health of all communities and people. The Healthy Community Champions Recognition is a two-year designation with opportunities to receive technical assistance to further the adoption and implementation of health in all policies.
In 2019, The Florida Department of Health recognized 33 communities as the Healthy Community Champions including the City of Lake Butler and Union County. Both municipalities are playing an essential role in improving the health of our community by implementing a variety of policies that have been shown to increase physical activity and improve nutrition. Union County and the City of Lake Butler’s collaborative efforts have helped to provide access to services, facilities, and programs by regularly supporting the prioritization of maintaining walking and biking trails, city and county parks, and local policies that allow zoning for vendors selling fruits and vegetables in the county. Additionally, both agencies work to develop, implement, and promote plans that support free physical activity opportunities for all residents within the county, including those residents that live in low-income areas.