Healthy Nacogdoches tackles chronic disease prevention

By Donna McCollum -


NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - As Congress debates a health care reform package on how to best treat chronic diseases, grassroots groups are working to prevent them.

The Healthy Nacogdoches Coalition's track record led to a distinct connection with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The passage of a no smoking ordinance, the support of government leaders and a level of readiness by Nacogdoches volunteers. This caught the attention of the CDC in its effort to prevent chronic disease. "In particular, obesity, physical inactivity, and poor nutrition," Joe Maloney, senior program manager for CDC said.

CDC spearheads "ACHIEVE", a grass roots opportunity to promote healthier lifestyles that can prevent chronic disease. Becoming an "ACHIEVE' community is an achievement of its own. Nacogdoches is one of only 13 cities nationwide selected this year by CDC. More than 90 communities applied. Healthy Nacogdches is receiving $75,000 and technical support for action plans.

"Strategies like getting sidewalks in areas that may not currently have sidewalks. Green spaces in lower socio economic areas that really need that access for safe places to be physically active," Alice Patty, ACHIEVE program manager explained.  "As well as access to nutrition opportunities."

All important goals considering cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in Nacogdoches County. The community's death rates for heart disease and stroke are higher than state and U.S. rates.

Prevention is key, but not always the focus. "I think from the community perspective there's not been as much focus on prevention which really is an area that I think has been overlooked," Maloney said.

But Healthy Nacogdoches groups are focused on change for the better, including a retired nurse suffering with hypertension on a daily basis.  "We're trying to make more things available in the community that would encourage and promote healthy habits," Marion Strahan said.

Healthy Nacogdoches promoting health lifestyles for everyone's benefit.

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