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“Healthy Ohio” is one of six Public Health And Safety divisions of the ODH.  Its purpose is to maintain and improve the health of all Buckeye State residents, improve lifestyle and to make individuals and businesses more efficient both at work and when they are utilizing medical-related equipment or resources. The other five divisions are Disease and Conditions, Emergency Preparedness, Environmental Health, Facility Regulation and Access to Services.

Note: House Bill 166 was previously passed, and provides funding for schools, businesses, children, and health care. Personal income tax rates were also reduced by approximately 4%. Healthy Ohio was omitted from the final version of House Bill 166 before it passed the House vote.

Living a proper lifestyle is one of the themes that is highly recommended. Eating the right types of food, in the right quantities, is one of the foundations of the program. Not only is eliminating oversized portions a must, but adding the appropriate food, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to every meal will make a big difference. Drastically reducing high-fat and high-sugar foods from everyone’s diet will ultimately reduce healthcare costs.

Changing from regular to 1% or 2% milk will also help. Reducing sodium intake and drinking water instead of colas is also mentioned. And of course, water is free. Bottled water is also less expensive than cola when purchased in quantity. Diet drinks, with artificial sweeteners, such as sucrose, aspartame, and saccharin, often dull your senses to other sweet food items, such as fruit. And losing weight often does not occur.

Eat Breakfast!

Not forgetting breakfast is probably easier to say than actually do. Personally, I’m as guilty as anyone, since I skip a hearty breakfast most days. But by taking just 10-15 extra minutes in the morning, you may improve your memory and have more energy at the end of the day. And it’s always a good idea to have other family members involved in what foods you buy (for all meals). You have the final word, but often family input makes it more likely that good nutrition will be more easily followed.

Some of the resources that have been mentioned and encouraged by the department include the American Dairy Association, US Breastfeeding Committee, American Dietetic Association and “Let’s Move.” The “Ounce Of Prevention Is Worth A Pound” toolkit is also a great resource to help parents prevent childhood obesity. It provides an easy to follow program that simplifies monitoring nutrition and physical activity. If followed, you might be able to find lower health insurance rates in Ohio.

Living Actively

Getting at least an hour of physical activity each day is highly recommended. This should be the minimum amount of time utilized. This hour can be divided into shorter increments such as three 20-minute sessions or six 10-minute sessions. If you have a break time at lunch (from work), use a portion of that time to take a walk outside or inside a building or your office. Walking 10,000 steps per day is a challenging, but very attainable goal.

Unless you have more than five flights of stairs, skip the elevator (with doctor’s permission of course!). Can you ride a bicycle to your place of employment or walk to work? You can also skip the closest parking space when you’re out shopping and pick a spot several rows away. But I have to admit…I do that and other family members are not happy about it! So proceed at your own risk, especially when the temperature is under 20 degrees!

This active lifestyle should include all family members. After-meal walks and limitations on TV watching will make a long-term difference. Often, planting a garden and being involved with all of the associated activities can make a difference. Everybody can also exercise together, whether it is at home or at a local recreation or fitness center. Walking, jogging or running is also an activity that everyone can do together. Just don’t celebrate afterwards by going to a buffet dinner.

And don’t forget to stretch every day. It helps! When you reach age 50 (although it’s different for everyone), you may hear a few joints creaking and notice that stiffness when you get out of bed. Stretching really does help, especially if it becomes part of a daily regimen. I’m over 50 (although I hate to admit it), and I think it makes a big difference.

Child Obesity

Weight issues with children are a major problem in this country. Diseases that previously were never discussed in children (such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes) are now openly talked about. The principal factors that contribute to the problem are less than adequate eating habits and lack of exercise. These conditions seem to be more prevalent in lower-income areas. The Healthy Ohio program correctly pointed out that often these areas do not have as much fresh produce available and the proper equipment for many physical sports.

Increased education and funding will hopefully change some of these trends. By reducing the BMI of children and young adults (when needed), it should have a positive impact on their lives later as they get older. Obese children are susceptible to the following conditions: high cholesterol, asthma, joint issues, gallstones, liver disease, acid reflux, and high blood pressure. Public and private funding of facilities can make a big difference.


Since all of us spend a significant portion of our early lives in schools, naturally, school safety should be discussed. Of course, a healthy student is more productive, both inside and outside the classroom. Programs that teach and promote good eating and physical activity will go a long way in improving schools. Educators can best utilize their teaching schools, when students are healthy, alert, and attentive.

In addition to the proper nutrition (including education and counseling), the discussion and elimination of bullying is a must. A safe school environment always should be provided. Also, the quality of air, including the proper ventilation is expected. There would appear to be a direct correlation between a safe environment and a productive school. Guidelines and strategies should be reviewed each year so the less effective programs can be improved.

Prevention Of Chronic Diseases

Current programs are being developed, while existing programs are getting updated, to help prevent chronic diseases. Common ailments include  cancer, heart disease, diabetes, kidney failure, arthritis, and stroke. Tobacco use cessation and prevention, and women’s medical conditions are also important medical issues that are constantly reviewed.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is responsible for more than one out of three Ohio deaths. Also, more than one million adults in the state are diabetic. More than 9% of the US population has a form of diabetes, and many of these persons are not aware that they are diabetic. As the average age of the population continues to increase, more persons will be impacted by this disease. Incidence of prediabetes is also increasing. Education, increased physical activity, and proper blood pressure and BMI can help.

Women’s Healthcare

The Women’s Health program is designed to increase awareness of female medical issues, and provide a source of information through the government and other public institutions. Each May, “National Women’s Health Week” is celebrated and promoted by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). During the week, action and activities are promoted, including eating nutritious meals, scheduling annual routine physicals and OBGYN visits, avoiding smoking, excessive drinking and other activities that may be hazardous to your health, and enjoying conversations with friends and family.

Additional breastfeeding resources are provided, that can be used at home, or for Mothers that have recently returned to working outside the home. A comprehensive guide is offered by HHS, which discusses many of the advantages of nursing, including improved health for baby and Mother, substantial cost savings, additional nutrition, and bonding.”Listserv” provides email communication regarding various services and research. Available jobs and upcoming event information is also provided. The email service is free.

For additional information on the “Healthy Ohio”  (Ohio Healthy Start) program, you can visit the website here. Many of the available  ODH Programs are listed below:

Alcohol And Drug Testing – Approved methods for OVI testing.

Antibiotic Resistance – Utilized to treat persons with infectious diseases.

Bathing Beach Monitoring – Provide healthy and safe aquatic areas.

BeachGuard – Inspects Lake Erie shoreline for E.coli.

Child Fatality Review – Studies child mortality statistics.

Child Injury Prevention – Preventing injuries to children ages 0-18.

Down Syndrome – An informational worksheet is utilized.

Health Care Facilities – Includes freestanding inpatient rehab facilities and ambulatory surgical facilities.

Help Me Grow – Parent-support program.

HIV Prevention – Coordination of the statewide program.

Infant Mortality – Many relevant resources are available.

Hospice Care – Focus of care to the terminally ill.

Newborn Screening – Identifies babies at higher risks for medical conditions.

Nurse Aid Registry – List of state tested nurses aides in Ohio.

Oral Health Program – Dental information.

Organ, Eye, and Tissue Donation – Because of the critical organ shortage, donations are badly needed.

Primary Care Office – Improve access to primary care services.

School Nursing Program – Helping schools receive quality health.

Stroke – Quick treatment can prevent many deaths.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome –  The Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant provides funding.

Tobacco Use Cessation – Programs that provide products and advice.

Women’s Health Program – Identify and address current issues.