Making the Healthy Choice the Easy Choice

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New Year’s Resolution: Advocate for a Healthy South Carolina

By Gail R. Kinard, Palmetto Public Affairs, LLC

Well, it’s that time of year again when we start thinking about our resolutions for the New Year.  As you think about what you’d like to accomplish in 2013, consider adding the following to your list:  become an advocate for creating a state where the healthy choice is the easy choice.

The goal of Eat Smart Move More South Carolina is “A South Carolina in which healthy eating and active living are essential to the everyday culture where we live, work, learn, pray and play.”  To make this goal a reality, we need your participation.  We need you to speak up in your workplace, at your school, in your community and let others know that it’s important for you, your family and everyone around you to have an environment that promotes healthy eating and active living.

At your worksite, this might involve talking to your employer and suggesting that healthy snacks be offered in the break room, in place of candy bars and soft drinks.  Or, this might mean having a discussion with your employer to see if a flexible work day could be implemented in order to allow employees to exercise before or after work.  The benefits of a healthy work site include gains in productivity, decreases in absenteeism and turnover, reductions in stress, lower medical costs and fewer injuries.

At your local school, see what improvements might be made to provide a healthier environment for school children.  This might include speaking to members of the school improvement council, or PTA to suggest that healthy snacks be offered in the school store, rather than junk food, or pursue policies that would allow children more time for physical activity to be incorporated into the school day.  There is extensive data showing that children who eat healthier food and get sufficient physical activity during the school day have better test results, are more focused in the classroom, and have less absenteeism.

The South Carolina General Assembly will begin a new session in January. Eat Smart Move More South Carolina will be advocating for policies to implement changes in schools and communities to produce an environment where the healthy choice is the easy choice.  However, in order to be successful with our efforts, we will need you to call, write or meet with your local legislator to let him/her know that these issues are important to you.  Soon we will be providing more details regarding our efforts,  but for now, look around your community and see where your voice can make a difference.

If we want a state where the healthy choice is indeed the easy choice, we—meaning all of you—will be the ones who make that happen.  For 2013, resolve to advocate for the changes you want to see in your community.  Let this resolution be one that continues throughout the year!