The Healthy Futures Program, an initiative of this university’s public health school, is kick-starting a campaign to help Prince George’s County residents lose a collective 1 million pounds over the next year.
The “Lose It to Win It” campaign aims to accomplish one of Healthy Future’s main goals: curbing local obesity.
“Our main goal is to get the obesity rate down,” said Alicia Ray, a senior community health major interning for the program. “We want people to be more active and, overall, more healthy.”
Roughly 35 percent of adults in Prince George’s County are obese, and another 34 percent are overweight, according to a survey conducted by the public health school in July 2012.
Those numbers combined are nearly 5 percent higher than the state average for overweight and obese adults, per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.
According to Ray, the campaign will accomplish this by providing events for residents to attend, creating a community garden and educating the community on what they need to know to “help them live healthy lives.” By doing so, the program looks to commit 250,000 residents to losing the cumulative 1 million pounds.
“We’re hoping to have residents lose weight as more of a communal goal,” said Pamela Pecku, a junior community health major and intern for the program. “Weight loss is hard to do on your own without social support. With this campaign, you have the community in general coming together on a goal.”
The Healthy Futures Program was launched in 2011 by Elliot Segal, a public health professor who works in the Department of Health Services Administration. Its primary missions are to reduce childhood obesity and improve the quality and quantity of healthcare and social services received by low-income families.
“Right now the program is focusing on improving maternal child health and decreasing obesity,” said Michalina Rubin, a senior community health major and the program’s supervisor of community outreach.
Residents can log onto the program’s new website and register to participate. The site will be used to track weight loss as well as follow the weight loss challenge that will occur among the county’s area codes.
“This campaign is essential because it’s our way of connecting with the community at the same time as combating obesity in Prince George’s County,” Pecku said. “And it’s a great experience for the interns because we don’t really get into the health field until last semester senior year, so this helps us learn the ropes of public health.”
The campaign officially launches Oct. 3, and will be celebrated by an event hosted at Stamp at 7 p.m. in the Charles Carroll Room. Students are encouraged to attend as well as participate in the campaign.