SC Health Leaders Announce Plans to Tackle Obesity

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

This past Thursday, several health care leaders across the state of South Carolina came together at a press conference to discuss their collaboration and plans to tackle the obesity epidemic in the state of South Carolina.

Those most notable at this press conference included, Gov. Nikki Haley, Catherine Templeton, Director of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), Lillian Koller, Director of the South Carolina Department of Social Services (DSS), and SCMA Members Dr. Marion Burton, Medical Director of the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and Dr. Janice Keys, Director of the Medical University of South Carolina’s Boeing Center for Children’s Wellness.

Dr. Janice Keys plays a vital role in the SCMA’s Childhood Obesity Taskforce, a committee founded by past SCMA Board Member Dr. Vincent Degenhart that is comprised of several physicians and health care leaders across South Carolina that share the same commitment of the Governor, DHHS, DHEC and others.

During the press conference, Dr. Key commented, “It’s not about appearance, it’s about health. Obesity is the driver of hypertension, diabetes, and stroke, all of which are too common in South Carolina.” Dr. Key further added, “A problem that is this big, that requires systemic change, can only happen through partnership, and that’s what we [South Carolina physicians and health care leaders] are doing. We [all] have to come together to make healthy changes about nutrition and physical activity.”

During the meeting, some of the plans to begin tackling this epidemic included working with medical and nutrition experts, farmers, grocers, private employers, and other influencers to collaborate on finding ways to begin battling obesity and improve the overall health of South Carolinians.

Also, according to a press release released by DHHS, “as part of a comprehensive strategy to improve health and fight obesity statewide, the Department of Social Services (DSS) is requesting permission from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to ensure that a broad range of healthy foods are available for purchase with food stamps (SNAP) in South Carolina.

In addition, DHHS is taking steps to recognize obesity as a disease. This recognition will enable DHHS to treat obesity as a primary condition and will further allow the alignment of this policy with the agency’s mission to improve the health outcomes of beneficiaries.”

Dr. Burton, DHHS Medical Director, stated, “This recognition allows us to treat obesity as a primary condition and it aligns this new policy with our agency’s mission to improve the health of our beneficiaries.”

To see SCMA Member Dr. Marion Burton’s comments from the press conference, visit:

To see SCMA Member and Childhood Obesity Taskforce Partner Dr. Janice Key’s comments from the press conference, visit:

Photo credit: Office of Governor Nikki Haley

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Friday, March 1, 2013 youlanda mcknight

"This effort is overdue. There should also be a physical review of those receiving SNAP benefits to disallow the purchase of foods that aren't healthy similar to how the WIC program manages the procurement of healthy foods.

Without constraints on how much junk food can be purchased in lieu of healthy foods, the system in enabling obesity."