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Pasco’s state wellness ranking falls to 43rd in state

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Mike Napier talks the talk and walks the walk when it comes to battling a nagging problem of obesity in Pasco County.

Napier, administrator of Pasco County Health Department, said Tuesday he had dropped 22 pounds himself in recent months.

“I’ve eaten just as much as I ever did,” Napier explained to his luncheon audience at a meeting of the business group Suncoast Women in Networking. He has tried his utmost, however, to eat better.

Obesity, physical inactivity and smoking remain the top three weaknesses weighing down Pasco County’s health ranking, Napier said during his presentation.

In the past five years, Pasco’s health ranking has fallen to 43rd from 37th among the state’s 67 counties, Napiersaid.

“Where you live matters to your health,” Napier commented. Potential employers also pay a lot of attention to a healthy workforce when deciding whether to relocate to Pasco.

“We’re all in this together,” Napier said. “It’s not just government.”

Napier hopes to convene a health summit in the near future to publicize a cohesive message. The health department has some 30 community partners, he noted.

The goal is “health in one generation,” Napier emphasized. So naturally health officials want to teach good habits to the youth of today.

He would like to see more fruit stands in place of some vending machines at schools.

Pasco can build on some of its strengths, Napier stressed.

“Our children are healthy, learning and our schools are improving,” he wrote as part of his presentation.

“We have community infrastructure that has access to health care, encourages healthy behaviors and prevention,” Napier added.

Among WIN guests and members, Marilynn deChant deplores food marketing that gets people to eat more. Plus drive-through service means people don’t even need to get out of their cars.

Dawn Easter of Goodwill thanked Napier for the health department’s quit-smoking program, which worked very well for her.

Napier also pointed out Ivy Landell in the audience. Landell is a registered nurse working as the women’s services patient liaison for Medical Center of Trinity, which often coordinates efforts with health officials.

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