Healthy Arkansas

If you saw our News programs last week you learned that KAIT has partnered with several other local organizations to participate in the Arkansas Fitness Challenge. Our slogan is Feel Great with K8. Unfortunately, as excited as we are to be involved in this effort, the majority of Arkansans are not living an active lifestyle. In fact, Arkansas consistently ranks at the very bottom of all health related lists.

John Selig with the Arkansas Dept. of Health & Human Services recently commented that “approximately 85 percent of Arkansans have very little physical activity in their daily lives,” and more than 65 percent of our citizens are considered obese or overweight. In addition to the weight issue, we also have a high number of smokers in the state… and that directly impacts our poor health status.

It amazes me the number of people who still "choose" to smoke while disregarding all the information available about the horrific effects of this habit and the millions of people who have lost their lives to lung cancer. Bottom line, Smoking kills! The ABC network family and our viewers experienced what smoking can do first hand last year when lung cancer claimed the life of World News Tonight anchor, Peter Jennings… and as we were reminded this past week by the death of Dana Reeve, wife of Christopher Reeve, second hand smoke kills people who are not even addicted to this disgusting habit.

Being at the bottom of the list of healthy Americans affects us in so many ways… from increased health care costs to the negative impact it has on our families. Mr Selig goes on to say that health care costs are skyrocketing for preventable diseases like heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes. As the population ages, we are looking at a serious public health epidemic… especially overweight baby boomers who become ill.

So it is up to all of us to make the effort to live a healthier lifestyle.

We CAN do better, and in some areas we are. Governor Huckabee has set a great example for the state and the nation and is proving that anyone can improve their fitness through consistent exercise. It is exciting to see that Walnut Ridge and Hoxie are pushing forward to get their rails to trails project up and running. What a great benefit this will become for those communities. A group from Paragould has launched Women Run Arkansas and the city included an indoor track at their new community center. The Ridge Rider organization is hosting the Northeast Arkansas Running Series and participation continues to grow.

Hopefully the Greenway project planned for Jonesboro will pick up steam and become a priority for the city administration in the near future. We strongly support this project and wonder why it is taking so long to get started.

As I said, we are making progress, but we have lots of room for improvement. We encourage you to join us as we walk, run, bike and stroll to become healthier Arkansans.

We can help Arkansas move from the bottom to the top of health related lists. So share your successes… and let everyone throughout Region 8 know what you are doing to create a healthier Arkansas . You can check out some links to healthy lifestyle websites at the "consider this" section of our website…

Get off the couch, put down that bag of chips, throw away those cigarettes and let's get in shape, Region 8.

Responses from Viewers:

Roger of Fairdealing, Mo., writes...

Your comments regarding carcinoma of the lungs, has no medical evidence from second hand smoking,their are many ways, cancer, inherited genetic abnormalities, carcinogens, environmental agents, causing genetic mutations,viruses.There are as well many different types of cancer, genital, digestive system, lymphoma, skin, leukemia, myeloma, endocrine. I find your State has more cancer,because of,livestock,crops, insecticides and pesticides spraying, it is as well a mistake to assume that Mrs.Reeves died from second hand cigarette smoke, I have not been informed of this, and neither has any media outlets. Your station would be well advised to correct this error, and report on factual news, instead of missinformed information.

Staci of Walnut Ridge, Ark., writes...

I think that your remarks were very harsh and I don't smoke never have, but lung cancer is not 100% cause from smoking. and I don't think that dana reeves death has been reported that it was because from people smoking around her what if it was from the machines that helped keep her husband alive. If you read i think you will find that cancer ( yes even lung cancer ) is more genetical that anything else. If you want to get on to things that harm this area what about the drug's that hurt whole family's in this country.