Marion County leaders aim to combat childhood obesity with new program

Build Health challenge for childhood obesity

MARION COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Leaders in Marion County are aiming to better children’s health with a new program.

The area is one of 18 communities chosen across the country to participate in this year’s BUILD Heath Challenge.

The national program is about finding innovative ways through collaboration to improve local healthcare. For Marion County, that means childhood obesity.

“Children eat how their parents eat, so they learn this very early on during their developmental years,” said Spencer Twig, assistant CEO of the Medical University of South Carolina Marion Medical Center.

He said 54% of adults in the county are considered obese, which is higher than state and national averages.

The county was awarded a $250,000 grant. The Marion County Coordinating Council is partnering with MUSC Marion along with other healthcare centers and organizations to match the funds and services.

They’ll provide children with food prescriptions. Just like a doctor prescribes you medication, a pediatrician will give children a list of healthy foods to eat.

The grant will help cover the cost for food-insecure families if needed.

Bus transportation is also in the works to help families get around.

“With so many single-parent incomes in Marion County we know that there’s a huge opportunity to improve this,” Twig said. “It might not be something that we see in two years, but maybe we’re planting these seeds later on in life to hopefully address that."

Twig said they expect to begin the program in January of 2020.

Copyright 2019 WMBF. All rights reserved.