With collaboration and awareness, Florida is becoming the healthiest state in the nation.
Whether ensuring a child’s health, preparing for natural disasters or creating walkable neighborhoods, public health helps people make healthier choices that lead to long, satisfying lives. A healthy Florida ensures a better tomorrow…
Throughout Florida’s history, public health has played a critical role in opening the state to opportunity for children, adults and families, whether as residents or visitors. We know that good health starts with good jobs, education and quality of life. Florida has emerged from the Great Recession as a national leader in job growth, public education excellence and great living. Every day, Florida attracts 500 more people who move here, and yearly our state welcomes more than 75 million visitors.
With a strong economy, Florida is becoming the healthiest state in the nation.
This year, the Florida Department of Health is celebrating 125 years of Florida public health. The ancestor of the Department – the State Board of Health – was born during a time of crisis, as yellow fever gripped the state from Key West to Jacksonville in the 1880s. The dire situation demanded action from the state Legislature, which on Feb. 20, 1889, created the State Board of Health with Dr. Joseph Porter as the first state health officer.
Just as Dr. Porter and his team overcame yellow fever, the Department’s public health professionals are moving health forward in Florida today.
Looking at the health landscape, we see that the No. 1 public health issue is weight. Currently, just more than one in three Florida adults is at a healthy weight; one quarter is obese, and the rest are overweight. This situation has ominous consequences for our future: lives lost, livelihoods threatened and costs unsustainable.
To overcome this challenge, the Department launched the Healthiest Weight Florida initiative last year. Healthiest Weight Florida-is a public-private collaboration bringing together state agencies, local governments, businesses, schools, not-for-profit organizations and entire communities to help Florida’s children and adults make consistent, informed choices about healthy eating and active living. We are achieving healthiest weight together by energizing local communities to reshape environments.
The Department is leading this charge through a number of innovative programs:
Florida Health Cleans Up!is a roadside litter prevention campaign in which more than 1,060 Department employees around the state have formed 71 teams to adopt nearly 120 linear miles of Florida byways; more than 17 miles of state highways; 25 miles of city streets; 12 miles of trails; 178 acres of parks and 34 miles of shoreline. Regularly, these teams will put the community spotlight on the importance of clean spaces and healthy choices as they remove trash.
The Healthy Weight Community Champion Recognition Program highlights local government efforts to increase physical activity and improve nutrition. Florida’s 416 municipalities and counties are eligible to apply, and last year 37 received this recognition. In the process, we are sharing examples of what is working around Florida. One such effort is Streets Alive Lee, a signature event of the Healthy Lee Coalition, which incorporates fun, fitness and food to promote healthier lifestyles by temporarily closing streets to motor vehicles and opening them for people to have fun and get active.
To enhance local awareness about weight, the Department has developed a new comprehensive healthiest weight profile for each of the state’s 67 counties. The County-Level Healthiest Weight Snapshots tool is a part of the Community Health Assessment Resource Tool Set (CHARTS) and is designed to help Floridians achieve a healthy weight. The tool includes demographic, behavioral and environmental measures relating to the community’s healthy weight status. It may be used to support community health assessments, provide data for health and weight related research, and encourage communities to continue their efforts to improve nutrition and increase physical activity (HealthiestWeightFlorida.com).
Public health promotes economic vitality across Florida and succeeds through innovation, collaboration, accountability, responsiveness and excellence. These core values of the Florida Department of Health drive every effort to protect and improve health for all people in Florida.