how it started
From a chance encounter at a health policy meeting in 2015, A Healthier State House was born. As Easley Representative Neal Collins listened to state health experts talk about the need to improve health status in South Carolina, he knew that leadership starts at the top. And if South Carolina was going to improve the health of its citizens, state leaders needed to be at the forefront.
“We want to set an example for all South Carolinians. Healthier food choices and more physical activity can prevent heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other diseases that rob South Carolinians of a quality life and cost all of us a lot of money,” Collins said.
From there, Collins teamed up with the South Carolina Hospital Association (SCHA) and Fitbit to design a program that focuses on healthier lifestyles for state leaders and their staff. Through partnerships with various organizations throughout South Carolina, A Healthier State House offers a wide array of support for state officials to access health resources that make the State House a healthier place to govern.
partners in health
With Neal Collins and SCHA leading the way, A Healthier State House quickly spread to like-minded organizations and agencies that understood the importance of setting a healthy example for the people of South Carolina: the South Carolina Hospital Association, Palmetto Health, Providence Health, Hilton Head Hospital, Eat Smart Move More SC, SC Department of Health and Environmental Control, SC Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism, YMCA, Fitbit and the SC General Assembly seal.
Through the collective efforts of South Carolina hospitals, health advocates, state agencies, and the private sector, A Healthier State House brought together roughly 100 state elected officials, including two former governors, in its first year in 2016. The program hopes to build on that success going forward to continue to promote healthy lifestyles in South Carolina.
Recent data from the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control demonstrates the impact of obesity on South Carolina:
- 2/3 of adults in South Carolina are overweight or obese
- 1/3 of children in our state is considered overweight or obese.
- The economic cost of obesity in South Carolina is estimated to be $8.5 billion per year and growing.
Due to the growing prevalence of physical inactivity and its overall negative influence on health, there is a shift in focus to behavior; from what we are (weight) to how we act (activity).
The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies physical inactivity as less than 150 minutes per week of moderate to vigorous activity, over and above usual daily movement. Over 50% of Americans and almost 60% of South Carolinians do not meet this minimum recommendation for activity, which leads to a large portion of health care costs, disease, and death.