Home » $1.7 million public health grant aims to reduce obesity and chronic disease, create a healthier Kentucky

$1.7 million public health grant aims to reduce obesity and chronic disease, create a healthier Kentucky

Project focuses on healthier schools, obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Jan. 6, 2014) – The commonwealth has received a $1.7 million federal grant to help Kentuckians reduce the most serious risk factors leading to obesity and chronic disease, Gov. Steve Beshear announced today. The funding will be used to promote improved physical activity and nutrition, reduce obesity and prevent and control diabetes, heart disease and stroke with a focus on high blood pressure.

weightThe five-year Centers for Disease Control and Prevention grant was awarded to the Department for Public Health, part of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS), and focuses on healthy environments and prevention activities in workplaces, schools, early childhood education facilities and in community interventions to improve management of chronic diseases. Kentucky was also one of only 32 states to receive additional enhanced funding to achieve even greater reach and impact.

“Improving the health and well-being of Kentuckians has been my primary focus over the last year, as Kentucky has been a national leader in fully implementing health care reform for the benefit of our citizens,” said Gov. Beshear. “As a result of those efforts, more than 640,000 uninsured Kentuckians will now have access to affordable, quality health care coverage, many for the first time. This grant will help further support our goal of improving our dismal health statistics and bettering the lives of Kentuckians.”

Kentuckians are at or near the bottom of nearly every major health indicator, ranking the 44th least healthy state overall, according to the 2012 Edition of America’s Health Rankings from United Health Foundation. Kentucky has the highest smoking rate in the nation, ranks 40th in obese adults, 41st in diabetes among adults, 43rd in cardiovascular deaths and 50th in preventable hospitalizations.

“Our staff across the state aims to make Kentucky a healthier place to live, play, learn and work,” said CHFS Secretary Audrey Tayse Haynes. “With this federal grant, we can take one big step toward that transformation.”

DPH Commissioner Stephanie Mayfield, M.D. said the outcomes of the grant are focused on promoting and reinforcing healthy behaviors and practices, including a special emphasis on coordinated school health; improving quality, effective delivery of clinical and other preventive services to address diabetes and high blood pressure; and increasing community-clinical linkages to support prevention, self-management and control of diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.

“The chronic diseases we are targeting are often linked and are the result of related risk factors coupled with limited access to prevention programs and coordinated approaches to health outcomes at the community level,” Mayfield said. “The strategies to prevent and manage these health conditions are closely related. By combining approaches, public health programs and our community partners can work together to be more impactful and efficient.”

Mayfield said DPH is partnering with groups that have expertise in the four program areas – including the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) – to ensure efficient use of resources and establish a reliable information exchange.

“Schools will be a vital partner in this project,” Mayfield said. “We will also be working with KDE to develop a system that will assist schools in helping children with certain chronic diseases to improve health, reduce absenteeism and have a better chance to succeed academically.”

Setting the foundation for additional enhanced funding to achieve greater reach and impact, DPH recently hosted the Changing this Generation through Unbridled Health Stakeholders meeting and announced the publication of “Unbridled Health: A Plan for Coordinated Chronic Disease and Health Promotion in Kentucky.” The coordinated state plan was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and demonstrates that a structure and foundation was in place in Kentucky for implementing the grant and for achieving measurable outcomes. The plan is available online at www.chfs.ky.gov/dph/unbridledhealth.

“Unbridled Health” was developed over the past two years by an advisory leadership team of both public and private partners committed to coordinating their efforts. This large stakeholders’ group and leadership team will continue to address chronic disease prevention across the state through implementation of the “Unbridled Health” plan by providing a network and structure for reaching the outcomes of the new five-year grant.