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 For Immediate Release
September 24, 2014

South Carolina Unveils Statewide Obesity Action Plan

Columbia, S.C.- The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) Director Catherine Templeton and the South Carolina Obesity Council, today unveiled the state's first-ever obesity action plan, A culmination of collaborative efforts, the initiative focuses on both long-term and short-term strategies that can be immediately implemented to begin reducing the rate of obesity in the Palmetto State.

"Obesity kills the most people in South Carolina, makes the most people sick, and if prevented would save the most money in healthcare costs," said DHEC Director Catherine Templeton. "For the past two years, DHEC has acted as the convener for over 800 business leaders, healthcare, non-profit executives, researches, and volunteers who have been working locally to fight obesity. will direct parents, ministers, nurses, teachers, and managers to the actual proven sources that can help each of us on a daily basis in our homes, schools, worksites, and communities. Today, we move from talk to coordinated action."

Currently, two out of three South Carolina adults and one out of three children are overweight or obese. Linked to chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease, obesity contributes to the diseases that kill the most people in our state, make the most people sick, and cost our state the most money-- an estimated $8.5 billion per year and growing. If current trends continue, this generation of South Carolina children will have a shorter life expectancy than their parents.

The plan features 12 and 24 month action items in four major categories: Communities, Worksites, Healthcare, and Schools/Childcare. Broadly defined, the plans overarching goals include:

  • Improve the community environment to increase access to affordable fruits and vegetables, education about healthy eating and physical activity, and provide more opportunities for safe physical activity.
  • Improve employees' health by implementing evidence-based worksite wellness strategies that reduce obesity risk factors and prevalence.
  • Improve patient care by enhancing the health care system's ability to effectively diagnose, counsel, and refer patients to needed obesity treatment, nutritional counseling, and support services.
  • Improve children's health through the use of evidence-based strategies that promote healthy eating and physical activity.

To assist the state in meeting its goals, the plan promotes sweeping actions to stimulate across-the-board changes at the environmental, policy, and system-level.

"Over the past decade, South Carolina hospitals have worked with stakeholders across the state and beyond to address issues negatively impacting health in South Carolina," said Thornton Kirby, President and CEO of the South Carolina Hospital Association (SCHA). "Today, no issue is more critical than obesity and the resulting chronic health problems, which rob so many South Carolinians of healthy, productive

lives. Also, these chronic illnesses account for a huge percentage of health care spending in this state. SCHA and our member hospitals are excited to participate in this important effort that will allow us to work together to accomplish much more than any of us can accomplish alone."

"For too long South Carolina has led the country in hypertension, stroke, diabetes, and heart disease," said Dr. Janice Key, MUSC Boeing Center for Children's Wellness' Director of School and Community-based Programs at The Medical University of South Carolina. "This Strategic Plan will change that by unifying our efforts to target the underlying cause of these diseases, obesity. We will no longer simply react to statistics about the bad health of South Carolinians, but we will reduce and prevent these diseases by promoting healthy lifestyles in our health care systems, our schools, our businesses, and our communities."

"The plan aligns existing initiatives to reduce obesity across South Carolina and serves as a vehicle for additional partners to join a collective, coordinated movement," said Eleanor Dunlap, Chair of the Eat Smart Move More South Carolina Board of Directors. "Eat Smart Move More SC and the network of local coalitions are pleased to be integral partners in creating communities across the state that promote and support healthy eating and active living."

To view the action plan or to learn more, visit:

For a summary of the plan, click here.

See what leaders from across South Carolina are saying about, click here.

For a list of our partners, click here.


Cassandra Harris
Public Information Officer