Jackson County receives more than $1 million from CDC grant to help fight obesity

Jackson County has received a $1.15 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help lower an obesity rate that’s the highest in the state this year.

Purdue Extension Jackson County will team up with health experts at Purdue University to develop and implement strategies to address the county’s rate, which is 39 percent.

Five years ago, that rate, which involves the number of people reporting a body mass index of 30 or more, was 31 percent.

Tim Gavin, professor and head of Purdue’s Department of Health and Kinesiology, applied for and received the two-year CDC grant for “reducing obesity in Indiana through community involvement to increase prevention.”

Jackson County will share the grant with Lawrence County, which has the state’s second-highest obesity rate at 38 percent. The lowest rate in the state was 21 percent recorded by nearby Monroe County.

“Obesity is a serious public health concern, and fixing the problem begins with understanding and supporting each individual community’s needs,” Gavin said. “The Purdue Extension Jackson County office is a trusted community resource, and that gives us a foundation to build on as we work together to create long-term solutions for this public health problem.”

Gavin’s main contact in Jackson County will be Joni Muchler, health and human sciences educator for Purdue Extension Jackson County.

“Jackson and Lawrence counties were chosen for this grant because they are the Indiana counties with the highest adult obesity rates,” Muchler said. “This is all very new, but we are hoping to have a meeting within the next couple of months to discuss what plans need to be set into place.”

Read the full story in Saturday’s Tribune and online at tribtown.com.