OUR OPINION: Long-term health work is the way to success

By NEMS Daily Journal

Tupelo’s longer-term initiatives promoting communitywide better health, especially combating childhood obesity, were given a nationwide stage Wednesday in Philadelphia where Mayor Jack Reed Jr., joined a small group of other mayors and first lady Michelle Obama at a special event spotlighting “Let’s Move!” – the healthy life initiative started in 2010 by Obama.
Tupelo’s longer-term efforts include work of the Healthy Tupelo Task Force, Tupelo Parks and Recreation initiatives, and the Health on a Shelf program promoting healthy and fresh food sales at convenience stores across the city.
The first lady’s “Let’s Move!” program is non-partisan. Reed, a Republican, was on the stage with only one other Mississippian, Democratic Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr., who represented his city’s better-health programs.
Reed earlier noted in a Daily Journal article, “Everybody’s pitched in to get us here. It’s a real honor for Tupelo.”
Tupelo earlier won the BlueCross BlueShield Foundation’s Healthy Hometown Award.
No one involved in Tupelo’s initiatives believes the goals have been reached, but just as important, starts have been made.
In the spirit of “Let’s Move,” which is fitness-practitioner Obama’s main health platform, the more people that programs can engage the better the opportunity to achieve lasting, positive results.
Tupelo, after all, is not unlike most other communities whose residents, through the years, have become more dependent on riding everywhere and less likely to get exercise even as basic as regular walking.
Mayor Johnson, in fact, was cited for Jackson’s 10-week walking campaign for city employees, called “Let’s Go Jackson.”
“Let’s Move!” focuses nationally on childhood obesity because it is a problem of major consequence for the health of children who are obese now and with all negative implications for their personal health moving into adulthood.
“The physical and emotional health of an entire generation and the economic health and security of our nation is at stake,” Obama said when she announced the program in 2010.
She was to announce new initiatives on Wednesday, with the U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting as a backdrop.
Reed and Johnson shared the stage mostly with other mayors of much larger cities.
“Let’s Move!” recognizes that the healthier lifestyles as recently as 30 years ago have been largely displaced by a sedentary, less-healthy-eating culture.
The “Let’s Move!” website notes, “In total, we are now eating 31 percent more calories than we were 40 years ago – including 56 percent more fats and oils and 14 percent more sugars and sweeteners.”
Tupeloans literally moving will help regain good health.