For Immediate Release: August 23, 2006
Media Contact: Communication Office
BURLINGTON – A new website was launched today that allows Vermonters to access detailed survey information about their town’s physical activity and healthy nutritional resources.
The survey data can be used to work with local coalitions, partners, town planners to improve the health resources in communities. Improved health resources will reduce obesity and overweight incidence statewide.
Annual medical expenses attributable to adult obesity in Vermont total about $141 million. In Vermont, 26 percent of children in grades 8 through 12 are overweight for their age and height and 55 percent of Vermont adults are overweight or obese.
The website: http://crs.uvm.edu/townhealthresources/ is a collaborative effort of the University of Vermont’s Center for Rural Studies and the Vermont Department of Health's Fit and Healthy Vermonters Program.
"It only makes sense that if people have access to trails, paths, playgrounds and other recreational facilities, they will be more active," said Sharon Moffatt, RN, MSN, Acting Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Health. "Likewise, having healthy food available through farmer's markets or local stores encourages healthier eating."
A comprehensive survey of public resources related to physical activity and nutrition in Vermont’s cities and towns was conducted in the summer of 2005.
The full study is available at: http://healthvermont.gov/family/fit/public_resource_inventory.pdf
Highlights of the study include:
- The majority of cities/towns have reduced speed zones (78.2%) and half have pedestrian signage (52.8%)
- Less than half (44.5%) of cities/towns have sidewalks
- The majority of cities/towns have baseball fields (65.9%), playgrounds (62.9%), and public parks (52.4%)
- 12.2% of cities/towns have regulations or a permit process that require new residential or commercial developments to include sidewalks adjacent to roads
- Approximately 8% of cities/towns public schools allow public access to their recreation facilities after school hours
- About one third (35.4%) of cities/towns have at least one grocery store/super market and
- Over one quarter (28.4%) of cities/towns have at least one farmers market
A statewide initiative that is working to address the obesity problem is Fit & Healthy Kids. Started in 2003, Fit & Healthy Kids is a comprehensive, statewide approach aimed at transforming schools and communities into places where making healthy lifestyle choices is easy.
“Obesity is just the symptom, not the problem,” Moffatt said. “We can and should do everything possible to improve our diet and increase our exercise.”
The recommended amount of physical activity for adults most days per week is 30 minutes.
The Vermont Department of Health intends to conduct a follow-up survey in 3-5 years to see if improvements have been made as people become more aware of the increasing need to create communities that support physical activity and good nutrition.
For more information about the Fit & Healthy Kids program contact Suzanne Kelley, Physical Activity Coordinator at the Vermont Department of Health at 802-657-4202. For more information on the survey, contact Thomas DeSisto at 802-656-0258 at the UVM Center for Rural Studies.