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It’s Community Health Improvement Week

Summer is a good time to use local trails and check out Market on Central

June 5, 2011
Messenger News

Today is the start of Community Health Improvement Week. It was established by the Association for Community Health Improvement, and was created to highlight and celebrate the contributions of those working in community health for healthy communities. I am a dietitian at Trinity Regional Medical Center and I am always striving to improve the health of my patients through nutrition. With the obesity rate climbing, it is more important than ever to focus on healthy eating habits and exercise.

During the past 20 years, there has been a dramatic increase in obesity in the United States. In 2009, only Colorado and the District of Columbia had a prevalence of obesity less than 20 percent. (Iowa had an obesity rate of 27.9 percent.) Obesity is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer, and type 2 diabetes. It is defined as having a body mass index - BMI - of 30 or greater. BMI is calculated from a person's weight and height and provides a reasonable indicator of body fatness and weight categories that may lead to health problems. Healthy eating, regular physical activity and balancing calories consumed with calories burned by the body are the key to reducing BMI.

Childhood obesity is also a major concern and has more than tripled in the past 30 years. The prevalence of obesity among children aged 6 to 11 years increased from 6.5 percent in 1980 to 19.6 percent in 2008. The prevalence of obesity among adolescents aged 12 to 19 years increased from 5 percent to 18.1 percent. Children and adolescents who are obese are at greater risk for bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and social and psychological problems such as stigmatization and poor self-esteem. Therefore, it is important that children learn healthy eating habits at a young age.

Encourage your children to make healthy choices by bringing them to the Market on Central this summer. Market on Central is being launched on July 9 in Fort Dodge on Central Avenue and will be happening for six consecutive Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. It is part of the mission of the Market on Central to provide an educational opportunity for consumers to learn the benefits of healthy eating and wellness. The market will have a variety of vendors including fresh, Iowa-grown produce. The market website,, has nutrition information on many fruits and vegetables and healthy recipes. All of the recipes listed have an ingredient in them that is available to buy at the Market. There will also be a health and wellness booth that is manned by health care professionals, including registered dietitians. I will be at the health and wellness booth on July 9, so please stop by and ask questions.

Healthy eating is important in battling obesity, but exercise is a vital component as well. Fort Dodge has three nature trail systems that are available for a variety of exercise activities. The Fort Dodge Nature Trail is three miles and begins at Williams Drive at Snell-Crawford park entrance and leads northeast to the city limits and ends at County Road D14. This nature trail is good for walking, biking, jogging and cross-country skiing. The Soldier Creek Nature Trail is two miles and begins at Williams Drive and leads southwest to North Third Street bridge extending to Central Avenue. The trail is 10-feet wide and completely asphalted. It is good for walking, biking, rollerblading and skateboarding. The Phinney Park Trail is one mile and begins at Phinney Park entrance and leads south along the Des Moines River to Avenue C hill. The trail is 10-feet wide and all asphalt. It is good for walking, biking, rollerblading and skateboarding. There are other trails available in Webster County at Brushy Creek, Dolliver Memorial State Park and John F. Kennedy Memorial Park. For more information visit,

The Healthy Weight 4 Life class, through the Healthy Living Department at TRMC, is available to the public and aims to help participants achieve healthy body weights and promote lifelong changes. Through this program, a series of educational classes are taught. Some topics covered in the classes are portion control, healthy holiday eating, eating out, making recipes healthy, exercise planning and handling stress and boredom without food.

This summer, focus on having fun with your family as well as promoting healthy habits. Hope to see you at the Market on Central.

Samantha Henning, RD, LD, is a clinical dietitian at Trinity Regional Medical Center.



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