Abilene-Taylor County Public Health Dept. promoting healthy habits through grant

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ABILENE, TEXAS (KRBC)-The state of Texas says Taylor County has one of the highest rates of obesity comparatively across the state of Texas.

This alarming rate is a harsh reality for the Abilene-Taylor County Public Health Department, especially after the Texas Department of State Health Services awarded the county a five-year grant in response to this rate.

We spoke with Kristi McQueen, a health administration specialist for the public health department.

“So we actually didn’t apply for this grant, so instead we were awarded this grant, which isn’t necessarily the best thing because it’s due to our obesity rate in Abilene being higher than the state average,” said McQueen.

The department has listed five areas of focus through this grant:

  1. “reaching out to local worksites and community settings that have food service, to work with them to implement all or part of the food service guidelines to increase the availability of healthy food options.”
  2. “increasing workplace compliance with the federal lactation accommodation law”
  3. “integrating nutrition standards in early care education centers”
  4. “integrating physical activity standards in early care education centers”
  5. “collaborating with partners to connect sidewalks, paths, bicycle routes, public transit with homes, early care “

McQueen said issues including a lack of healthy eating options and infrastructure have impacted our community’s health.

“We’re very car dependent, and so it’s hard to get around if you want to walk somewhere, which is a big factor for our physical health,” said McQueen. “And, we have lots of food places here in Abilene, but not too many healthy food places.”

McQueen said this grant is simply a “jumping-off-point” to create long-lasting policy to promote healthier living. She wants to mirror the progress of other communities such as Oklahoma City which re-branded itself after implementing a city-wide health program.

“In about 2007, they were named ‘the fattest city’ and so within five years they became ‘the fittest city’,” said McQueen.

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