Cherokee Nation to Promote Healthy Eating, Tobacco Cessation Efforts

03/26/2010
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March 26, 2010

Cherokee Nation to Promote Healthy Eating, Tobacco Cessation Efforts

Michelle Brooks and Denise Brown learn healthy cooking ideas from the Cherokee Nation healthy cooking class.  The Nation recently announced efforts to promote healthy eating and tobacco cessation.

Michelle Brooks and Denise Brown learn healthy cooking ideas from the Cherokee Nation healthy cooking class. The Nation recently announced efforts to promote healthy eating and tobacco cessation. 

 As part of its ongoing community campaign to combat obesity, smoking and other preventable health risks, Cherokee Nation announced it is developing additional strategies to promote healthy eating, physical activity and increase tobacco cessation throughout the tribe’s jurisdictional boundaries. 

“Our goal is have healthy and happy people and families in our communities,” said Chad Smith, Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation.  “These educational efforts and policy implementations will help us better achieve that goal.” 

The tribe is partnering with U.S. Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control to carry out the effort.  Cherokee Nation was one of 44 entities across the U.S. chosen to receive funding through a special Communities Putting Prevention to Work grant through the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act. 

In the effort to combat obesity, localized media strategies will be developed to promote healthy food and beverage choices.  In addition, the tribe will work closely with schools in the area to limit unhealthy food and beverage availability, implement farm-to-school programs, adopt quality physical education courses and activities, increase safe, attractive and accessible places in communities for physical activities, adopt procurement and purchasing policies, implement menu labeling, reduce the cost of recreation services, and help expand activity groups in workplaces, community centers, parks and neighborhoods.  

“For many years we have encouraged our citizens and others to take advantage of our various programs to help live a healthier lifestyle,” said Melissa Gower, group leader for Cherokee Nation Health Services.  “These new efforts will help strengthen the ones we have already established as well as help us partner with schools and other groups to help educate the public on the importance of healthy eating, exercise and making healthy choices.” 

Along with its existing tobacco use prevention efforts, the Nation will help communities and businesses implement tobacco-free policies, develop product placement guidelines for tribal-owned businesses and increase access to cessation services for citizens and other residents of tribal areas. 

According to the U.S. Surgeon General, smoking remains the single most preventable cause of premature death in our society.  After only 12 hours of stopping smoking, the body’s carbon monoxide level drops to normal and in only 24 hours the chance of a heart attack decreases.  Some studies have also linked negative health effects to those who, though they do not smoke, have been exposed to “second hand” tobacco smoke for long periods of time. 

Studies show three out of every four smokers would like to stop smoking and tobacco use.   However, success isn’t easy as researchers say many of those wishing to stop failed in their first attempt, even among those who eventually succeeded. 

In addition to receiving the Communities Putting Prevention to Work grant, the Cherokee Nation was recently awarded the Certificate of Excellence from the Certified Healthy Business Program, a yearly health initiative from the Oklahoma Turning Point Council, the Academy for State Goals, the State Chamber of Commerce and the Oklahoma State Department of Health.  The program recognizes businesses that work to improve Oklahoma’s health status by providing health and wellness opportunities for their employees.