JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - "We have leaders in our mayors across all communities that can take small steps to start helping us reverse the epidemic of childhood obesity, said Arkansas Surgeon General, Dr. Joe Thompson.
Dr. Joe Thompson discussed with Craighead County leaders small things communities can do to make a big difference.
"Having more diet or water in soda machines at city parks or in community centers, trying to improve the nutrition that's coming out of our schools through the cafeterias," said Dr. Thompson.
Dr. Thompson says a healthy, productive workforce can help grow an economy.
He also wants Arkansas to be the first to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic in order to have healthier residents and plenty of opportunities for them.
"My goal, and this is consistent with the governor's goal's on education, is that Arkansas has a productive workforce that attracts business and helps us grow our economy," said Dr. Thompson.
"You may know the problem, but the question is where do you go to get the solutions. I think he did a great job with that," said Jonesboro Mayor, Harold Perrin.
While solutions offered won't change the epidemic overnight, those in attendance say it's certainly a place to start.
"The way you have to attack obesity is a change in people's lifestyle just a little bit at a time," said Dr. Bob Warner.
"We have to change the environment where our kids go to school, where they learn, where they play, where our families go on the weekends so that the healthy choice is the easy choice. Right now, the healthy choice, too often, is the hardest choice," said Dr. Thompson.
Childhood obesity wasn't the only topic. There was some very good news. Dr. Thompson says there's been a reduction in tobacco use by our high school students just in the last ten years.