Kentucky gets $1.7 million federal grant to reduce risk factors that lead to obesity, chronic disease; focus will be on schools

Kentucky has received a five-year $1.7 million grant from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help Kentuckians reduce risk factors that lead to obesity and chronic disease.

Most of the money will be used for preventive measures such as physical activity, weight loss and better nutrition, and programs to prevent and control diabetes, heart disease and stroke with a focus on high blood pressure.

The plan will put “special emphasis” on coordinated health efforts in schools, according to a state news release.

The state Department of Public Health, which received the grant, is partnering with the Department of Education and other groups to help ensure efficient use of resources and reliable sharing of information, Health Commissioner Stephanie Mayfield said.

“Schools will be a vital partner in this project,” she said in the release. “We will also be working with Kentucky Department of Education to develop a system that will assist schools in helping children with certain chronic diseases to improve health, reduce absenteeism and have a better chance to succeed academically.” 

Kentucky has one of the highest childhood obesity rates in the country.  It ties Mississippi for the highest percentage of youth in grades 9 to 12 that are obese (18 percent) and has the third highest percentage of children ages 10 to 17 who are obese (21 percent). It was one of 32 states to receive such grants.

Kentucky ranks 44th in overall state health according to the 2012 America’s Health Rankings by the United Health Foundation.  It has the nation’s highest rates of smoking and preventable hospitalizations, and ranks in the top 10 in obese adults, diabetes among adults and cardiovascular deaths.

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