How America's Fattest State Hopes to Get Healthier
Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Wednesday unveiled a 10-year plan to encourage healthier lifestyles and improve the health of Arkansans.
“A healthy, active Arkansas is important to me as governor,” he told reporters at the state Capitol. “This is not a one-time, we’re going to have a news conference about this and forget about it. This is not a public service announcement.”
Hutchinson said a healthier Arkansas is “important to my No. 1 signature issue in this state, which is to grow our economy and to create jobs and recruit industry to this state. It’s an important issue to me because an unhealthy Arkansas is an expensive habit for the taxpayers.”
Arkansas’ adult obesity rate is the highest in the nation at 35.9 percent, according to a report released last month by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Johnson Wood Foundation. Hutchinson said public dollars account for 40 percent of the cost to treat obesity-related illnesses in the state.
Poor health also hinders job recruitment and affects quality of life, he said.
The origins of the plan, titled Healthy Active Arkansas, date back to late 2012, when senior staff of the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute met with a group of science researchers to discuss ways to reduce obesity in the state. That meeting led to a summit in December 2013, and the summit led to the creation of a consortium that began developing the plan.
The plan includes the following nine priorities: