OUR OPINION: Healthy-life promotions work well if the best choices follow

By NEMS Daily Journal

Tupelo’s designation as Mississippi’s “Healthiest City” in a Blue Cross BlueShield of Mississippi program rewards the city’s efforts to make better health and healthy lifestyles more accessible to all residents and the people who work here.
Mayor Jack Reed Jr. announced the $50,000 grant that comes with the designation during a Thursday press conference. The city’s Healthy Task Force will use the funds to extend existing programs like the retail promotion Health on a Shelf, Mayor’s Marathon, health-related billboards and several bicycling promotions, including bicycle safety.
Similarly, Gov. Phil Bryant’s first 5K Run for Health this weekend in Jackson put the executive branch’s stamp on wellness and good health initiatives aimed at the general population. Money raised in registration fees for the run will be donated to Blair Batson Children’s Hospital at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, Mississippi’s only hospital specifically for the treatment of children.
The race drew about 800 people.
All of the programs like Tupelo’s initiatives and the governor’s run are strongly encouraging, but their effectiveness rests on the power of persuasion.
The broader impact depends on individual choices and commitments by Mississippians to whom health and wellness options are offered. Reed and Bryant, both active athletes, lead by example; the best positive impact depends on the willingness of Mississippians to follow – or by sheer will power determine on their own to become healthier.
The award and the run, coincidentally, happened during the week of the Supreme Court’s decision impacting a national health care program. The program is politically controversial, but like every other health care initiative can become more effective if its potential clients and patients try individually to become healthy.
Mississippi, the state most of us love as home, sets a terrible example in the context of individual health with highest-in-the-nation (or nearly highest) rates of obesity, physical inactivity, poor diet, unacceptable rates of tobacco use – and all the health consequences rising from those personal choices that become a burden for both privately paid health care and insurance, plus the government’s already huge health care commitments.
Better health is within reach of virtually every person, and the official encouragement coming from the city of Tupelo and Gov. Bryant is appropriate and potentially hugely beneficial – if Mississippians join in.