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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, January 10, 2002

Shape up and live healthier, state says

By Alice Keesing
Advertiser Health Writer

That spreading waistline. It's something that's affecting more and more people in Hawai'i — even the governor, who yesterday 'fessed up that he's put on 25 pounds since stepping into office.

Gov. Ben Cayetano and state Department of Health officials yesterday announced a public relations campaign to encourage residents to start living healthier.

"This is something I was supposed to start a long time ago, myself," said Cayetano, referring to his weight creep.

"I have a set of pants I need to work at getting back into."

The Start.Living.Healthy campaign will kick off next week. Residents will be blitzed with reminders on radio and television, and even in theaters, about healthier eating, the need for more exercise and not smoking.

Local farmers will work with the elementary schools, demonstrating how to prepare their fresh produce. Fruits and vegetables in stores will display the Start.Living.Healthy logo. Restaurants will likely soon start marking the healthy picks on their menus.

"The whole idea here is just to get started," said health director Bruce Anderson, referring to studies that show how lifestyle changes can come one small step at a time.

Although Hawai'i is known as the "health state," 50 percent of adult residents are overweight. Diabetes and cardiovascular disease also are rife in some ethnic groups. Experts say three risky behaviors — poor diet, lack of exercise and smoking — are key areas where lifestyle changes can help prevent such problems.

The $800,000, year-long campaign is part of the department's Healthy Hawai'i Initiative, which is paid for with money from the tobacco companies' settlement of a federal lawsuit filed by states. The department will get $9.5 million in tobacco money this year.

It is spreading the money among the media campaign, a school education program and a community program, which will award grants of up to $25,000 for projects such as building bike paths. The department will conduct an ongoing review of the effectiveness of the programs.

Reach Alice Keesing at akeesing@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8014.