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Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - 12:52pm

Georgia Combats Rising Obesity

Georgia’s obesity rate is on the rise according to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control.

The report released this week shows that in 2010 more than 30 percent of Georgians were obese.

That’s an increase of 3 percentage points over the previous year.

The state’s newly created Department of Public Health is now preparing to tackle the problem by promoting healthy habits among children and adults alike.

The agency is rolling out the School Health and Physical Education Act, or SHAPE, beginning next school year. The new law requires public schools to test the fitness level of all students.

The department’s Dr. Kimberly Redding says it will help develop long term strategies for combating obesity in Georgia.

"We need to know how our kids are doing: How fit are they? Then begin to be very strategic in how we address that."

The agency also is working with religious leaders across the state to help them spread the message of healthy eating and exercise to their congregations.

But despite the efforts, Redding says, it could still take years to reverse Georgia’s trend.

"We’re not going to be able to do something today and then look up a year from now and suddenly Georgia’s obesity rates have gone down because the problems is much more complex than that but I think that we are beginning to do the work to improve our obesity rates in the long term."

Redding says another effort involves helping public schools come up with healthier food alternatives and improve PE programs.