Local News

National, local experts aim to raise obesity awareness

Posted February 17, 2012

— According to the Obesity Action Coalition, North Carolina's obesity rate has increased 80 percent in the last 15 years.

Nationally, as many as 90 million people are affected by obesity, and that number is growing. Experts say the number of obese people in the U.S. could climb to as many as 120 million in the next five years. 

On Friday, a team of national leaders, local experts, state lawmakers and even the mayor of Durham teamed up at a news conference at Structure House to raise awareness and call for action against what many are calling a crisis and an epidemic.

Retired four-star Gen. Barry McCaffrey said the goal is to raise awareness and promote education for people dealing with obesity.

"It's a huge problem," McCaffrey said."What comes along with obesity, aside from being stigmatized in the workplace, is hypertension, heart problems and diabetes. To some extent, it's an education problem."

Structure House, a part of the CRC Health Group, offers weight-loss vacations for adults on its 12-acre campus and promotes an educational approach to weight loss.

The center promotes behavioral changes, nutrition and exercise while also providing medical support to those looking to lose weight and keep it off.

Obseity Conference hopes to promote weight loss education

"A lot of this is lifestyle and education driven," McCaffrey said. "In our fast-paced society, particularly in our lower income levels, there is more dependence on fast foods. We want people to get educated, to understand healthy living."

Michael Theokas said he went to Structure House two years ago and has since lost 350 pounds. The experience taught him not to substitute food for relationships and to deal with his emotions in ways other than eating.

"I try to be very mindful and say, 'OK, I’m feeling stressed right now. Is going to eat, is that really going to help? Or should I deal with why I’m stressed?'”

Another focus of Friday's event will be obesity in children. According to the Obesity Action Coalition, one out of every three children is affected by obesity. Children considered obese are 70 percent more likely to become obese adults. Wellspring at Structure House, a new program launched designed for youth, launched in Durham Feb. 1.

Friday's conference, scheduled to begin at 11 a.m., is free and open to the public.


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  • Da Toy Maker Feb 17, 2012

    "As in stay out of a 4 year olds lunch box. She can also keep eating those $35k dinners which I am sure as healthy, just like her lobster dinners.

    I'm 100% agree with you that taking away that 4 yr old's lunch was WRONG! On the other hand, you have to agree that there are a lot of parents out there don't know/don't care about what their kids should eat to be healthy. I personally don't know where we should draw the line on keeping our personal FREEDOM vs help those less fortunate kids.

    As for the $35k dinner, some people have no problem affording it. It is their choice to spend their money on it. Just like people spending money at Angus Barn locally vs the people who stay home and make healthy dinner themselves. It is their choice, right? I don't have the extra money to eat at Angus Barn doesn't mean other people shouldn't. Just saying.

  • gunny462 Feb 17, 2012

    "Here's an idea, we can just have Michelle Obama crack-down on all the overweight people in the US..."

    "We as a nation are obese is because of the President and the first lady??? That my friend, is a VERY GOOD one. LOL! Da Toy Maker"

    As in stay out of a 4 year olds lunch box. She can also keep eating those $35k dinners which I am sure as healthy, just like her lobster dinners.

  • muggs Feb 17, 2012

    miketroll3572,"Stay out of my life!!!!!" No problem there just as long as you are staying out of the social systems medicaid fund when you can't pay for your lifestyle,other than that eat up,get fat and be happy.

  • Da Toy Maker Feb 17, 2012

    "I think everybody needs to mind their own business, especially the liberal socialists. Stay out of my life!!!!!

    Why shouldn't people care?? You have to admit the Obesity cost everyone: medicare, Health insurance, productivity. Everything is interlaced that there is a direct cost and effect correlation here. If we as a nation gets healthier, everyone will be better off, don't you think??

  • Da Toy Maker Feb 17, 2012

    "In a bad economy, the only luxury people are allowing themselves is food..."


    True. The cost of food is high but there are way to do it:

    A box of fresh oranges is $20, a box of Fuji Apples is $15 to $25 depending on size, a box of Asian Pears is $25 at the State Farmer's Market. You could get fresh fruits and vegetables very cheap at the whole building there every Saturday morning if you live in Wake County. Even if you buy health food from Grocery stores, you could still make health dinner for reasonable price.

    As one comment saying, it is down to personal choices.

  • Da Toy Maker Feb 17, 2012

    "Here's an idea, we can just have Michelle Obama crack-down on all the overweight people in the US..."


    We as a nation are obese is because of the President and the first lady??? That my friend, is a VERY GOOD one. LOL!

  • muggs Feb 17, 2012

    iamsiam1096, Never took the time to research that statement you quoted by Ben. Franklin but it is one that should be etched in stone on the front entry to every social service building in this country,I'm amazed at times how much our forefathers could see ahead,have a great day.

  • muggs Feb 17, 2012

    readme, Having read your comment which for the most part is about what sums up the real problem that being individual choices,if I might just add one comment and that would be the fact many people who do not take health serious when diet is concerned end up on the government social system and that in someway needs to be controlled,how I have no idea but tripping over the same log should indicate you should change paths that you are following,bad health is a choice just as good health is some seem to just not care.

  • bill0 Feb 17, 2012

    If 10% of the population struggled with weight, I'd be inclined to call it a personal responsibility issue. When over half of the population struggles, then it becomes a major public health concern. In the coming years, we are going to have to make a lot of public planning decision to reintroduce physical activity into daily lives/work. We've largely built a society where people have to drive to get anyplace when 15 minutes of walking a day could make a huge difference in our country.

  • iamsiam1096 Feb 17, 2012

    Unfortunately muggs there will always be those who take take take and abuse since they feel no responsibility. When the government takes care of those it deems in "need" it only seems to make it worse. To fix it should fall to the individual, family, and community. As I believe Franklin once said "I am for doing good to the poor, but...I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. I observed...that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.”
    ― Benjamin Franklin

    Kudos to you for making the changes in your life to make it better, I hope more follow the example.