Pardon the pun, but obesity in Robeson County is a bigger problem than it is just about everywhere else, and it is a big problem pretty much everywhere else, certainly in the United States, which is at the top of the fat chart among countries.
About 25 percent of Americans are considered obese, and the percentage in Robeson County is about 33 percent, meaning that for every three people we see, one is going to be obese — not merely overweight, but carrying pounds that are threatening that person’s good health.
The good news is that our ranking as the county in North Carolina that is the most obese or close to it surely played a role in the Walmart Foundation’s decision to award Southeastern Health a $60,000 grant to spread the word in Robeson and Bladen counties on how to eat healthy.
According to information provided by Southeastern Health, the grant will be used to provide healthy eating classes, with a focus on students, teachers and parents at the elementary school level. In addition to the public schools, partners will include local libraries and community colleges.
People who are reached by the grant will receive recyclable grocery bags filled with educational materials about proper nutritional choices.
We like that children are being targeted; adults know how to eat healthy. There is plenty of information all around us. Go heavy on the fruits and vegetables and drink plenty of water, and stay away from sugar, sodium, soft drinks, fat, all that stuff. The problem is that too few of us heed the advice.
Good information hasn’t stopped 20 percent of Americans from smoking, so we doubt that many adults are going to quit eating unhealthy because the extent of their unhealthy eating and its consequences — diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and even cancer to name just some — has been dangled in big and bold letters.
The tragedy is that too often our bad habits are bequeathed to our children, who become victims of their parents’ ignorance or indifference. There isn’t a law against parents stuffing their children with donuts, candy bars and BBQ, so our young people are entitled to another line of defense, which is information.
The grant from the Walmart Foundation, with the help of Southeastern Health, is providing that information so the food choice becomes the child’s — raising the odds that they don’t get trapped in lifelong habits that imperil their health.