Stanford doctor starts local ‘Get Healthy Lincoln County’ program, plans to take it statewide via Kentucky Medical Association

Part of the effort: A weekend workout group in Stanford

A Stanford physician who started a local movement for a healthier community plans to promote it statewide through the Kentucky Medical Association’s Commission on Public Health.

“Dr. Naren James said in the next year, under the Affordable Care Act, health insurance rates will be affected by the overall health of a community,” Abigail Whitehouse reports for The Interior Journal. “Having a healthier community will actually have a tangible impact on people’s health insurance rate,” James told her.

James said he was motivated to start the program when he realized that that Kentucky ranks very high in childhood obesity, “which ultimately effects the future of a community,” Whitehouse notes. Much of the program’s focus is on increasing residents’ physical activity.

“The reason why we did ‘Get Healthy Lincoln County’ was to make a model that could be used statewide,” James told her. She writes, “His goal is to promote the
movement so that every community in Kentucky can find a coalition of
people interested in health to create that ‘get healthy’ community.”

“It has to be from the ground up,
not from the top down,” James said. “When you deal with health, people have to make
the choice. It has to be educational.”

In June, the program conducted several activities, “many of which were successful,” Whitehouse reports. “Now that the ‘Get Healthy Lincoln
County’ movement has been approved as an annual effort, James said a
committee has already begun planning for next year by determining what
did and didn’t work well this time around.

For example, a history walk around Stanford, Kentucky’s second oldest town, “had a great turnout,” James said. Also successful were “a Saturday morning of exercise” in a local park and “Dinner with a Doctor,” Linda Carney of Texas, “who provided the crowd with a
plant-based diet and spoke about the benefits of such diets,” Whitehouse reports.

“What’s for Dinner Stanford?,” a project of the local extension office, “invited the public to participate in a
plant-based cooking class using local produce,” Whitehouse writes. “James said that the cooking class
has done well and will continue throughout the year, but it was realized
that programs which require more commitment require more of a push.”

For example, a program called “Eight Weeks to Wellness” needed “more events to sell it,” James said. “Anything you’re going to do for several weeks, you have to sell it. . . . We need to sell
it to people’s individual needs. They have to understand why health is
impacting them personally.”

“In a broader sense, James said people leading the ‘get healthy’ movement have to learn to speak the right language,” Whitehouse reports. “The language about health is
immediately negative,” he said. “It’s a cultural shift. Speaking
about health positively is so important, which we tried to do with the
Get Healthy program and I think overall it came across positively. Even
the things that are negative can be turned into positive.”

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