County Executive Isiah Leggett was joined today by County Councilmember George Leventhal, chair of the Council’s Health and Human Services Committee; County Health Officer Dr. Ulder J. Tillman and members of the Obesity Prevention Strategy Group to unveil a new “2BU” vending machine in the Executive Office Building aimed at providing healthier food choices to employees and visitors. The unveiling took place as part of a lunchtime event to give employees and visitors an opportunity to taste samples and rate food items that will be available in the vending machine. The event also included free fitness testing and one mile walks around downtown Rockville.
“Montgomery County is not immune from the obesity epidemic,” said Leggett. “The reasons are many but food choice is one way that we can begin to make a difference and reverse the trend. I am committed to helping build a healthier workforce and a healthier community.”
Data shows that over half (54.3%) of all adults in Montgomery County are overweight or obese and nearly four out of 10 children (36.3%) are overweight or obese. Since 2000, the rate of hospitalizations per 100,000 residents with a primary or secondary diagnosis of obesity have increased three-fold for adults and more than four-fold for children. Chronic diseases and conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes are related to being overweight and obese and are experienced by a large proportion of Montgomery County residents.
“Changing the offerings in vending machines may seem trivial, but they unquestionably influence an individual’s overall eating habits,” said Leventhal. “If county government is to take seriously its goal of fostering a healthier workforce, it has to start with itself. These new vending machine food choices will result in healthier, happier and more productive employees. I look forward to rolling out additional healthier vending machines in county-owned buildings in the months and years to follow.”
The Vending Machine Project was developed by the Obesity Prevention Strategy Group, a public-private coalition dedicated to reversing the obesity trend, in keeping with the County’s goal to make Montgomery County the healthiest county in the nation. By doing more to prevent and reduce obesity and promote good health by improving the health habits of employees, the County can set an example for the community. Members include staff from the Departments of Health and Human Services, Recreation and General Services.
“It is important for government to set an example for the community at large,” said Dr. Ulder J. Tillman, County health officer. “While it is just one machine now, we are confident that employees and visitors, when given healthy options, will make good choices and make small changes that can add up to healthier lives.”
The vending machine, located on the terrace level adjacent to the cafeteria, will display graphic information on calories and nutritional information, as well as the duration of physical activity needed to burn the calories consumed. The project strives to identify, provide and encourage the selection of vending foods that meet the standards set by the Institute of Medicine, which recommends vending choices have no more than 200 calories per serving, less than 35% of calories from total fat, less than 10% of calories from saturated fat, zero trans fat, less than 35% of calories from total sugars and less than 200 milligrams of sodium.
Additional information on the project can be found on the Healthy Montgomery website. Go to www.healthymontgomery.org and click on the link for Obesity.
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