The goal of Lighten Up Charleston is for Charleston to become the healthiest city in the Southeast. There are great resources right here in Charleston to make this possible. The Lighten Up Charleston Steering Committee, made up of members of the City of Charleston, local hospitals, schools and colleges, businesses, health agencies, physicians, and community leaders, has created the Lighten Up Charleston website with the mission of bringing together local resources to help the residents of the Charleston area become healthier. The website includes a weight loss tracker to track the total weight loss in the community.
Why is Lighten Up Charleston Needed?
Approximately 66% of adults in the United States are overweight, with almost 30% categorized as obese. Of particular concern is the percentage of children and adolescents who are obese. The CDC estimates that 1 out of 3 children are overweight or obese, with 17% categorized as obese. Southern states tend to see a greater percentage of overweight or obese adults than other states throughout the nation.
More than 65% of SC adults are overweight or obese(SC BRFSS). Alarmingly, 60% of Berkeley county adults are either overweight or obese (25% report no exercise and 80% report eating few fruits and vegetables) as are 60% of Charleston County adults (21% report no exercise and 74% report eating few fruits and vegetables). Just over 70% of Dorchester County adults are either overweight or obese (21% report no exercise and 74% report eating few fruits and vegetables) (SC BRFSS).
Moreover, data collected in 2011 through the CDC-administered Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) show that in South Carolina, nearly 30% of high-school students were either overweight or obese and, while valid childhood obesity are not systematically collected for middle- or elementary-school-aged youth, case report and case series data suggest that rates are equally high for younger children, if not higher. Overweight and obesity are the result of an imbalance between energy input (caloric intake) and energy output (caloric expenditure); however this is a complex relationship and many factors, particularly those within obesogenic environments, interact to markedly increase overweight and obesity risk as well as co-morbid diseases and conditions including heart diseases and stroke.
A recent MUSC Lean Team study found that 43% of student participants in the Charleston County School District were either overweight or obese. Furthermore, 67% of adults and 70% of teachers enrolled in the study were also found to be overweight or obese – a notable finding, as children depend on parents and teachers to be role models.
The South Carolina Department of Health & Environment Control reports show that of South Carolina high school students: (Youth Risk Behavior Survey, YRBS, 2007)
- 17.1% are overweight
- 14.4% are obese
- 17% ate the recommended five or more servings of fruit and vegetables per day
- 70% do not meet current physical activity recommendations.
South Carolina’s youngest children are also impacted. Over 25% of low income children ages two through five are overweight or obese.