Health and wellness plan unveiled for Michigan citizens

The Michigan Department of Community Health unveils a “Health and Wellness 4 x 4 Plan” for the state, in response to Governor Rick Snyder’s charge to prevent and control obesity in Michigan.

In June of 2012 the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) released the Health and Wellness 4 x 4 Plan for the State of Michigan. The MDCH was charged by Governor Rick Snyder to prevent and control obesity in Michigan following his Health and Wellness message to the state in September of 2011. The “4 x 4 Plan” highlights four healthy behaviors and four key health measures with the goal that each Michigander will adopt health as a personal core value. The four healthy behaviors are: “maintain a healthy weight,” “engage in regular exercise,” “get an annual physical exam” and “avoid all tobacco use and exposure.” The four health measures are body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, cholesterol level, and blood sugar/glucose level.

Why is Governor Snyder so concerned about the health and wellness of Michigan citizens? The fact is 32 percent of Michigan adults are obese, meaning their body mass index (BMI) is greater than 30. Seventeen percent of Michigan children are obese as well. If we don’t change our behaviors, it is estimated that half of all Michigan adults will be obese by 2030.

Why is obesity such a concern? Obesity is at the root of most chronic diseases including heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, stroke and dementia. Chronic diseases may reduce our quality of life and can also lead to early death. Not only that, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that 75 percent of all health care dollars spent in this country are spent on treating chronic diseases. It is estimated that the State of Michigan could save more than $13 billion in health care costs every year if our BMI rates go down and we become healthier.

Let’s take a look at the four healthy behaviors in the governor’s “4 x 4 Plan.” The first is that we maintain a healthy diet. What is meant by a “healthy diet?” It’s really simple. First, a healthy diet is one that includes a variety of foods including fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheese. It also means a diet that is low in saturated fats, has few added sugars and salt, and has as little trans-fat as possible. Finally, a healthy diet promotes weight maintenance; calories eaten equal calories burned through physical activity.

Speaking of physical activity, that is the second healthy behavior in the governor’s plan. Regular physical activity will help us maintain a healthy weight or lose weight if that is our goal. Physical activity has benefits beyond healthy weight, too: it helps in the development of strong bones, joints and muscles. People who are physically active are also more flexible and better able to maintain balance, which helps them avoid falls. Finally, physical activity is a natural mood booster and gives us a feeling of well-being.

The physical activity goal for adults is 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week. Moderate activities include brisk walking, biking or swimming. That is only a little more than 20 minutes a day! If 20 minutes is too much at once, you can break it down to ten minutes at a time to start. Keep it up and soon you’ll be able to increase your time.

Children and adolescents should get 60 minutes of physical activity a day. If you have difficulty persuading your child to turn off the TV or computer to get up and move, try suggesting that for every five minutes of screen time he or she does 10 jumping jacks, 10 push-ups and 10 toe-touches, or 10 minutes of some other physical activity. This might be a good idea for adults too!

The third behavior is to get an annual physical exam. Physical exams include screening tests that can diagnose health issues. The earlier health issues are discovered the sooner they can be treated. The exam can also help in the prevention of future problems or complications that may develop from existing health conditions. This time with your health care provider can be used to talk about your goals for the four health measures that are part of the “4 x 4 Plan”: BMI, cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure.

Finally, avoid all tobacco use and exposure! Tobacco is the number one cause of premature and preventable death in the United States. In Michigan there are 15,000 deaths each year related to smoking. Second-hand smoke should be avoided as well as cigarettes, cigars, pipes, smokeless tobacco and hookahs. Diseases such as cancers, pulmonary disease, heart disease, periodontal disease, asthma and others can be greatly reduced if you avoid all tobacco use and exposure to tobacco.

Adopt these four behaviors and you’ll be on your way to a healthier you!

Read the entire Michigan Health and Wellness 4x4 Plan online.

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