The Centers for Disease Control reports that Mississippi has had the nation's highest obesity rate since 2004. Mississippi is among 14 states in which 25 percent of adults are obese, while the national average for adult obesity is 15 percent. The most prevalent health risks associated with obesity are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and premature death.
Factors that contribute to obesity:
• Lack of education on how to change eating and exercise habits
• A sedentary lifestyle/culture
• Lack of affordable healthy food options
THE ROAD TO CHANGE
Mississippi Healthy Students Act
In 2007, the Mississippi Legislature passed the Mississippi Healthy Students Act. By the beginning of the 2008-2009 school year, the act mandated all schools to promote healthier habits for school children.
The MHSA requires:
• 30-60 minutes of daily physical activity for all students.
• Lower-calorie school lunches, and healthier snacks and beverages sold in school vending machines.
• Nutrition awareness and healthier eating habits to be taught in all grade levels.
Estimated Pre-MHSA Daily School Lunch Nutrition Value
Pot Roast: 200 calories, 740mg of sodium, 2.5g trans fat
Mashed Potatoes: 194 calories, 40g of sodium, 4g of fat
Peas and Corn: 60 calories, 390mg of sodium, no fat
Two chocolate-chip cookies: 300 calories, 190mg of sodium, 16g of fat
Pint of white (whole) milk: 150 calories, no sodium, 8g of fat
Total Calories: 904
Estimated Post-MHSA Daily School Lunch Nutrition Value
Baked Chicken and rice: 150 calories, 220mg of sodium, 5g of fat
Green Apple: 36 calories, 1mg of sodium, no fat
Low-fat ice cream: 70 calories, 40mg of sodium, 3g of fat
Pint of 1% white milk: 102 calories, 107mg of sodium, 2.4g of fat
Total Calories: 358
JACKSON ROADMAP TO HEALTH EQUITY
The Jackson Roadmap to Health Equity Project is a grassroots advocacy group started in 2006 to promote healthy living services in Jackson. In 2007 the JRHEP received a $5 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Organization to implement health education programs at Lanier High School, Brinkley Middle School and Johnson Elementary School.
The organization's board members appoint a trainer to the schools to teach students about health and exercise.
Trainers instruct school food service employees on how to cook healthier meals. JRHEP provides community exercise classes. JRHEP provides affordable fresh fruit and vegetables at the Jackson Medical Mall Farmer's Market.
Percentage of Mississippians Who Are Obese
A HIGH PRICE FOR HEALTHY FOOD
Despite efforts in our state to curb obesity, the cost of healthy food is often a challenge to many low income families. A 2007 University of Washington study reported that the average American spends $7 per day on food, while a low-income American spends $4 a day on food, meaning that low-income Americans
have less to spend on food and are more likely to purchase fast food, resulting in poor nutrition and health.
Average cost per calories:
Junk Food: $1.76 per 1,000 calories
Nutritious Food: $18.16 per 1,000 calories
SOURCE: University Of Washington, "The Rising Cost Of Low-Energy-Density Foods," Adam Drewnoski
How to lower the cost of healthy foods:
• Create community gardens and farmer's markets in low-income neighborhoods.
• Impose a local or federal tax on foods containing high-fructose corn syrup and sodas, and use the tax increase to subsidize the cost of vegetables.
HOW MUCH DOES A DOLLAR MEAL REALLY COST?
SOURCE: "Carbon and Nitrogen Isotopes in Fast Food: Signatures Of Corn And Confinement," A. Hope Jahren and Rebecca Kraft
• 12 percent of daily recommended calorie intake
• 12 percent of daily recommended carbohydrates intake
• 19 percent of daily recommended fat intake
• 34 percent of daily recommended sodium intake
• 25 percent of daily recommended protein intake
• 11 percent of daily recommended calorie intake
• 12 percent of daily recommended carbohydrate intake
• 23 percent of daily recommended fat intake
• 11 percent of daily recommended sodium intake
• 7 percent of daily recommended calorie intake
• 34 percent of daily recommended fat intake
• 16 percent of daily recommended carbohydrate intake
• 29 percent of daily recommended protein intake
• 55 percent of daily recommended sodium intake