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Jefferson County Public Health Service offers free nutrition series

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While Jefferson County Public Health Service will help with the state Department of Health’s Prevention Agenda: 2013-2017 call for a chronic disease prevention action plan, the local agency already is offering ways to reduce the rate of diabetes and obesity locally.

The Public Health Service already had established a diabetes coalition for people and agencies throughout Jefferson County, and needs assessments have been done by the agency in years past. Health planner Faith E. Lustik said the agency will continue to educate and inform the public of prevention efforts to help reduce high diabetes and obesity rates among children and adults.

That will be done most recently through a four-week nutrition series, from 1 to 2 p.m. Tuesdays beginning Aug. 20, at the agency, 531 Meade St. Weekly topics include portion control, exercise, carbohydrates, recipe modification and supplements.

“We have a high rate of diabetes in our county, and a high rate of obesity; nutrition is an important factor in that,” Ms. Lustik said. “There’s a big push in that and we want to follow along.”

Jill Joyce, registered dietitian at the agency, will lead the workshops of the Good Nutrition, Happy Body series, and offer handouts, worksheets, discussions and interactive exercises. According to a Public Health Service news release, the program aims to “help adults gain knowledge about the topic, improve menu planning and develop confidence to live healthier lives through nutrition.”

There is no charge for any class, but preregistration is encouraged by calling the agency at 786-3710.

While the agency hasn’t done a nutrition series before, Ms. Lustik said, the fall prevention series last year was attended by more than 40 people.

“We’re always creating awareness and working with our partner agencies,” she said. “We’re trying to develop different techniques and policies where health is the easier choice.”

She said one of the state’s prevention agenda goals is to reduce the percentage of adults who are obese in the state by 5 percent by 2017. Each county may choose how it wants to work toward that. In addition to educational offerings, Ms. Lustik said, Jefferson County Public Health soon will complete its next community health assessment where specific goals for the county will be outlined.

According to the agency’s 2010-13 community health assessment, nearly one-third of adults residing in Jefferson County are obese, and 9 percent of preschoolers are obese as well.

While solutions such as diet and exercise may sound like simple remedies, there are barriers to those solutions such as the high cost of fresh fruits and vegetables, and accessibility to safe walkways such as sidewalks and trails.

Breaking down those barriers is also something Jefferson County Public Health Service has worked toward.

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