The Washington Post

Jackie Sergent

(Jeffrey MacMillan/for The Washington Post)

Nearly one in three American children are overweight or obese. But after decades of rising rates, we may be turning a corner on the health crisis. Experts across fields gathered at Washington Post Live’s 2013 Childhood Obesity Summit to discuss strategies resulting in healthier children.

Jackie Sergent, Mayor, Oxford, N.C.

I’m mayor of Oxford and also the health promotion coordinator with Granville-Vance District Health Department. Granville County has a 12 percent poverty level. Vance County has nearly 28 percent. We have about 60 percent people of color in Vance, 40 percent people of color in Granville, and 7 percent to 8 percent Latino population in both counties.

There’s not a lot of money in public health or from our counties. We have a number of projects, including an “Eat Smart, Move More” weight-loss challenge: a 10-pound weight loss in 10 weeks.

We have teams of four people — every member of the team has to meet the 10-pound goal. We’ve done that for five years and have had 4,500 participants and 18,000 pounds lost.

The perspective that we always come from is: What are the solutions that we can leverage without a tremendous amount of money? It takes more money to put in a paved trail, but it doesn’t take as much to get a group of volunteers to clear a pathway and lay a little bit of gravel down. There are always degrees of accomplishment that you can strive for. But for us, the first piece was to get the concept of having walkways connecting recreation to neighborhoods to opportunities to buy food and so on, getting that into the vocabulary of the decision-makers. Now every municipality is consistently looking for opportunities to create walkability and bikeability.


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