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A Health Hero Emerges For Mississippi: Getting The Country Fit, One State At A Time
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A Health Hero Emerges for Mississippi: Getting the Country Fit, One State at A Time

That the United States is in the middle of a very serious health crisis is not news. Over a third of all adults in the United States are currently overweight or obese and the number is still climbing. Unfortunately, the numbers are no more favorable for our children either. The state that is sitting at number one on the listing of fattest in the nation is Mississippi, and it has held that dubious honor for over half a decade now. One woman is making it her mission to give that fatty crown to another state.

Linda Fondren lost her sister, only in her mid fifties to obesity related illness and vowed that she would find a way to keep others from having to deal with the same kind of loss. She looked at the statistics for her state, particularly the city of Vicksburg and decided to find a way to help get people fit, one pound at a time. In that city, ⅔ of all adults are obese or overweight. Over ⅕ of the children in that city are also overweight or obese.

In 2006, Fondren took her own money and time and built Shape Up Sisters, offering free nutritional information and workout classes for the city’s residents. There are currently over four hundred members for Shape Up Sisters. One of them, a 22 year old who had ballooned beyond her own belief. When she came in for an assessment, the Detroit native admitted that she had gained “some weight” and estimated herself to be somewhere between 200 and 250.She was shocked to find that she actually weighed 324 pounds. Unable to pay for the membership fee, Fondren did what she does best: she found a solution. The girl was hired to be a day care provider in exchange for her membership.

Fondren also kicked off Shape Up Vicksburg, meant to be a seventeen week weight loss challenge that she issued to the residents, including the city officials, teachers and cafeteria workers. So far, the city has dropped some 15,000 pounds all together and hope to continue with their progress.

Linda Fondren is part of the bigger picture for health initiatives in the country. First Lady Michelle Obama has also touted the Let’s Move program, one that is dedicated to showing on important that both physical activity and healthy eating is for everyone, especially children. Mrs. Obama is often shown working in her garden or doing other physical activities with her young daughters.

More children are facing the chronic conditions that were previously reserved for middle aged adults, including Type II Diabetes and heart disease. The numbers are so dire that the designation “adult onset” has been dropped from the name of the condition because it is simply not true any longer.The cost of health care of obesity related conditions is staggering, costing billions of dollars and nearly crippling resources for financially strapped hospitals across the nation.


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