Obesity is a worldwide health challenge many people in our region battle: Nearly 35% of El Paso adults are obese. And U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows childhood obesity is prevalent among Hispanic children, subsequently increasing El Paso’s risk of illness.
Dr. Leah D. Whigham, director of Paso del Norte Institute for Healthy Living, notes obesity is a disease, not a lifestyle choice.
Obesity stigma classifies overweight people as responsible for their illness and poses a barrier to a positive impact on weight and health, she said. Numerous factors contribute to obesity, such as a person’s biochemistry, metabolic pathways, genetic mixes and social influences.
Personal choices, dedication, devotion, and hard work will not always be sufficient to produce change.
For a better chance at success, individuals should consult a healthcare provider to be referred to the right specialist.
To help, El Paso health leaders have launched several initiatives that address the disease. Among them:
•Healthy Eating Active Living, Paso del Norte Health Foundation: Collaboration of partners who work to increase fruit and vegetable consumption among area residents, with a heavy focus on portion control. Encourages physical activity and decreased sedentary behavior. Information: pdnhf.org
•Sabrosa Vida, Healthy Eating and Active Living, El Paso Diabetes Association: The four-week program provides free cooking demonstration and tips on selecting, preparing and cooking healthy foods. Next course begins July 9. Information: 915-532-6280; epdiabetes.org.
•Live Active EP, city of El Paso: Free weekly online webinars on healthy eating, exercise and fitness tips and mental health. The city’s Be Well program is an interactive weekly nutrition education course. The Parks and Recreation Department offers virtual fitness classes such as Zumba and Yoga. Information: liveactiveep.com/events; pasodelnortetrail.org or @elpasoparksandrec on Facebook.
•Fresh Food FARMacy Market Program, El Pasoans Fighting Hunger Food Bank: Upcoming initiative partnering with doctors, nurses and nutritionists to offer those living with chronic disease fresh fruits, vegetables and other healthy food items. Information: elpasoansfightinghunger.org.
•SNAP Nutrition Education & Obesity Prevention, El Pasoans Fighting Hunger: Free courses for SNAP-eligible families on healthy weight management, portion control, healthy snacks and budgeting. Information: 915-298-0353.
•Walk with YWCA, YWCA Paso del Norte Region: Challenged El Pasoans to take 10,000 steps a day every day using a smartphone or fitness device to track progress. The goal is to reach a cumulative 890,000 steps by April 30. More challenges are planned. Information: ywcaelpaso.org.