As obesity continues to be a personal challenge for many people in Sampson County, a local health program is offering help and encouragement.
The Sampson Regional Medical Center (SRMC) created “Journey to Health” to help members of the community have a healthier lifestyle and fight obesity. The free eight-week program will be offered noon to 1 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 17, through Wednesday, Dec. 5, at The Center for Health + Wellness, 417 E. Johnson St., Clinton.
Robin Palmer, SRMC Community Wellness Coordinator, is looking forward to helping participants during the program.
“We all know those basic behaviors and we all know that we should exercise more, eat healthier, drink more water and watch less TV,” Palmer said. “But the key is, how do you change those basic behaviors. We focus a lot on goal setting and creating specific and small action plans to really help people change their habits.”
SRMC partners with organizations throughout the community for health related programs.
“We’re all working toward making this community healthier,” Palmer said. “There’s enough unhealthy habits to go around.”
Every three years, the medical center and the Sampson County Health Department conducts a health assessment and report. Along with data and research, surveys are distributed throughout the community. It was recently noted that 75 percent of residents are overweight or obese. Palmer said it was a startling fact and that obesity is a priority towards the prevention of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and stroke.
“Obesity is a major risk factor,” Palmer said. “So many people in our county are obese, so we have created this Journey to Health as a response to what we found in the community health needs assessment.”
With obesity being a concern all over North Carolina, state officials are making efforts to address obesity. One of the programs is the “Eat Smart, Move More NC” initiative, which promotes seven evidence-based, individual health behaviors to help reduce obesity: increasing physical activity; eating more fruits and vegetables, eating more at home; appropriate portion size; drinking more water and less beverages with sugar; and watching less television.
“It’s focusing on changing basic behaviors,” Palmer said. “It’s not about a crazy diet. It’s not about drastically changing your life.”
The seventh behavior includes breastfeeding, which is offered as a separate program. Palmer emphasized that babies are more likely to have a healthier weight.
SRMC recently held two pilot sessions for the program, which was also free for participants. About 28 people joined the classes. Palmer said they were very engaged, even during the stress of Hurricane Florence.
“Our goal is to make this community healthier and we are obligated and committed to our community health need assessment, seeing the problems and creating hopefully solutions that will help our community get to a healthier place.”
Palmer said another goal is to visit churches, civic groups and other municipalities to teach people about the program and increase commitments.
“I would like to take it out to other organizations because I know it’s not always easy for people to travel to the Wellness Center,” she said.
For accommodation purposes, Palmer would like people to sign-up by Friday, Oct. 12. To join the free program, contact Palmer at 910-596-5406 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org