KENNEWICK, Wash.- Research shows that as a country, Americans are getting fatter and less active. The Benton Franklin Health District wants to change that. They're working to implement a health improvement plan to combat unhealthy lifestyles in our area.
Last year the Tri-Cities was ranked in a national index as the 9th most obese metro area in the United States. The new health plan crafted by the Benton Franklin Health Alliance wants to lower the obesity rates in our area and inform the public about the resources that are available to live a healthy lifestyle.
"We identified our most recent comprehensive community health assessment was done in 1995 so we thought it was time to do another one," said Rebecca Sutherland from the Benton Franklin Health District.
Over those years, the Tri-Cities has changed quite a bit. With a decline in healthy practices the Benton Franklin Health District decided it was time for Tri-Citians to put down the chips and pick up CHIP. Chip is a Community Health Improvement Plan. The plan is an approachable initiative that informs the public about their options for staying healthy.
"There are over 100 different tactics in our health improvement plan and they run the gamut from encouraging parents to get out and play and exercise more with their kids to advocating for policy change for improving nutrition," said Dr. Amy Person, the health officer for the Benton Franklin Health District.
The plan doesn't just exist on paper. The Health District and Community Health Alliance want you to take those ideas in the plan and get active. Whether that be running along the river trails or just exercising in your own back yard.
"I think it's important for kids to know how to play outside and stay healthy and be physically active," said Yolonda Campbell, a mother playing with her daughter at Columbia Park.
The CHIP plan explains how the health habits that we practice can easily trickle down to the next generation, so it's important to teach children by example.
"I wish I would see more people out here," said Eric Erdman who walks the park with a metal detector. "I know our obesity rate in this area is not that great and they need to get out there and do a little more activity for sure." Erdman says he can walk between 3-4 miles when he goes hunting with his detector.
Overall, the Health District and Benton Franklin Community Health Alliance explain that in order for the Tri-Cities to get healthier, it's going to take initiative from the entire community. The release of this plan is just the first informational step in a larger movement.