Helping make the healthier choice, the easier choice

About the Building a Healthier Polk initiative

Building a Healthier Polk is a group of community partners brought together by Polk Vision who are working towards the goal of reducing the obesity rate in Polk County.  Polk Vision is a broad, community-led partnership of organizations, businesses, government, and individuals.

In 2012, Polk Vision’s Quality of Life Task Force was approached by the Department of Health to review their Report of Findings regarding the health of Polk County residents.  That report highlighted varying issues facing our county.  To further discuss these concerns, Polk Vision organized a committee to work on developing a community health improvement plan to address health issues.  The committee reviewed the Report of Findings and noted that chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes are major causes of death and preventable hospital stays for the residents of Polk.

Since obesity is a contributing risk factor to these chronic diseases and Polk’s adult obesity rate is higher than the state, the committee identified obesity as a strategic priority.  The goal is to reduce the obesity rate— which is a Body Mass Index (BMI) of greater than (>) 30 percent— in Polk County to less than or equal to (≤) the state average.  In other words, from the current 37.6 percent to 27.2 percent or less.

The committee of volunteers who are working to move the needle on this issue come from across the county and from a variety of professional backgrounds including healthcare, wellness, public schools, colleges, community development, municipalities, concerned citizens, and recreation.  Six strategy areas were created to tackle the issue and meet monthly.  Baseline information has been collected from several areas that provide a snapshot of the county’s overall health, and this group continues to meet to determine action steps that all residents can take to make the healthy choice, the easy choice.



About the Author: Sara Roberts serves on the executive committee with Polk Vision, Inc.  For more information on the Building a Healthier Polk Initiative, visit us online at  You can also find us on Twitter at @HealthierPolk and on Facebook.

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