If there was only one thing Georgia did well, it would be food. With southern fried chicken, flaky, butter soaked biscuits and sweet tea abounding, it’s not hard to see why this southern fried state has a reputation for big trucks and even bigger waistbands.
But putting stereotypes aside, obesity is a serious issue with a number of negative health implications affecting an individual’s quality of life. And the University of Georgia is making great strides to combat this problem, for the sake of both its students and the rest of the state.
The first step in the fight was to define obesity as a medically recognized disease.
Despite healthy on-campus options for food, the extensive Ramsey Student Center and weight-management services available at the Student Health Center, the issue of obesity remained.
Rather than prescribing a routine of exercise and meals that strictly follow the Food Guide Pyramid, the best way to alleviate the problem is through teaching healthy practices and good decision-making skills.
Because obesity is such a far-reaching disease, understanding its variety of causes and influences is more important than ever.
UGA is at the forefront of multiple health education initiatives, including its Obesity Initiative, and it should continue to expand efforts beyond the range of fields that seem obvious.
Teaching a social worker or community official about cutting-edge obesity developments can be just as effective — if not more effective — than teaching the concepts to a dietician or personal trainer, who may only be available to a small number of people.
Anyone who can influence others should be tasked with advocating healthy practices.
In order for the state to truly take control of its weight, obesity awareness needs to be common knowledge. We don’t need another 24-hour gym or organic smoothie stand, but rather, a shift toward a culture that challenges people and encourages them to carefully evaluate what is best for their bodies.
And, admirably, the first step toward a healthier Georgia is being taken right here on campus.
Now that university officials have taken initiatives toward combating obesity, the choice is placed in the hands of the students. With the resources UGA has made available, students have no excuse not to better their health, the quality of their lives and to make sure the message is carried past the Arch.
— Laura Thompson for the editorial board