Program helps people eat smart, move more and weigh less

More than 65 percent of all N.C. adults are overweight, and our state ranks fifth worst in the country for childhood obesity. Cooperative Extension is out to change these statistics through its Eat Smart, Move More, Weigh Less program.

The 15-week program helps people plan, track and live healthier lifestyles. A team of experts with Extension and the N.C. Division of Public Health developed the program.

Dr. Carolyn Dunn, a family and consumer sciences professor, said three things stood out in the team’s research on what helps people achieve and maintain a healthy weight: planning, tracking and being mindful about food and physical activity.

ESMMWL has been implemented in different ways throughout the state. Wayne County’s Fit and Fabulous for 15 Program is a good example. Each week, local experts teach nutrition, and twice a week a fitness instructor conducts exercise classes. The program, organized by Extension and the county Health Department, has been such a hit that there’s a long waiting list.

Participants came from all walks of life, from school students to retirees, said extension agent Christine Smith. “We try to make it fun and light, so that everybody can feel like they are achieving something. And they feel good as a result of doing that.”

With weight loss ranging from 2 to more than 25 pounds, participants made big steps toward healthier lifestyles. Some reported being able to cut back on diabetes medication, gaining control of high blood pressure and making healthier food choices.

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