Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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FL DOH's Wendy Bragdon on Healthiest Weight: "This is not just a job for me, this is a passion."

Posted March 6, 2015  05:45 am

Columbia County was recognized as one of FL's 65 Healthiest Weight Community Champions. From left to right: DOH's Wendy Bragdon; County Chair Rusty DePratter; Com. Ronald Williams; Com. Evertt Phillips; Com. Scarlet Frisina; Com. Bucky Nash; DOH Director Mark Lander

Wendy Bragdon, "This is not just a job for me, this is a passion."

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – Last night's meeting of the County 5 saw the introduction Wendy Bragdon, the Florida Department of Health's (DOH), Columbia County Division, new Health Education Consultant and Healthiest Weight Coordinator. Ms. Bragdon told The County 5, "This is not just a job for me, this is a passion. I've lost over a hundred pounds. I want to encourage the members of our community to live healthier lives."

Mark Lander, DOH's Columbia County Division Director, recognized Columbia County as one FL's 65 Healthiest Weight Community Champions.

Director Lander explained, "Ms. Bragdon is working with local governments and businesses, providing education and information on the benefits of making healthier lifestyle choices a part of our daily routines."

Over 60% of all Floridians are at an unhealthy weight. In Columbia County the rate exceeds 70%. The current trend show 6/10 children born today will be obese by the time they graduate from high school.

DOH's Lander and Bragdon addressed The 5.

Director Lander continued, "In the next 20 years, health care costs to treat obesity related health issues will exceed 34 billion dollars in Florida. In counties such as ours, this will tax an already burdened health care system."

Columbia County took the first step toward dealing with the obesity problem when it recognized that it had an obesity issue.

Columbia County changed its Comprehensive Plan language to include encouragement of sidewalks in communities.

The County has also maintained exercise areas such as the Alligator Lake trail and the Oleno to Suwannee bike trail, as well as the Southside Sports Complex, which is on the way to becoming one of the premier sports complexes in Florida.

Lake City is contemplating an exercise ring in the upgrades planned around Lake Desoto.

The Last Word: It's up to you.

After the meeting, Director Lander told the Observer, "One major challenge we face is accepting the fact that we have a community wide issue with obesity. By acting now to make healthier lifestyle choices, we can affect the future of health care for our children. As medical providers, we can educate the community on healthier lifestyles, but ultimately the decision to change falls upon the individual."

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