Jefferson County preparing for annual health, fitness event

Published 12:11am Friday, July 5, 2013

FAYETTE — Southwest Mississippi has a big problem — obesity.

From 2004 until 2011, Jefferson County was considered to be the fattest county in the nation. In 2011, that statistic improved, but only slightly — the county ranking moved from No. 1 to No. 4 in obesity.

That’s why the Fayette Community Service Agency started a campaign three years ago called “Let’s Move Mississippi from Fat to Fit.” The group is now planning its third annual two-day activity fair for July 19 and 20 at the Jefferson County Multipurpose Center.

The goal of the event — which will include a health fair, walking and running races, basketball tournaments, hula-hooping and jump rope contests, among other things — is to provide ways to show area residents natural ways to increase their physical activities, Janell Edwards with FCSA said.

“If we are ground zero for the obesity epidemic in our nation, what better place to start fighting it than here?” Edwards said.

Those who participate in the different events get their name entered in a raffle for a bicycle — there are 65 bicycles to give away — and other prizes, which include athletic equipment, sports attire and cash, Edwards said.

Registration for the events starts both days at 9 a.m., with the different competitions beginning around 10 a.m. Edwards said the competitions will last both days until approximately 3 p.m.

The fat-to-fit campaign has coincided with what appears to be a growing general awareness about health needs in the area, Edwards said.

“We are really excited about (the program) and the growth and progress we are seeing,” she said. “It is so amazing as you pass by our community center in the evenings, and there are people out there walking every single evening and morning — it is really exciting to see the change in mindset, when just a few years ago out there you would have seen nobody or just one person.”

Teams from three states have committed to some of the races, Edwards said, and Jefferson County natives who won’t be able to make it to the events will be there in spirit; people in Arizona and Colorado have committed to do distance runs in solidarity with the event.

Registration for the contests is free.

For more information, contact the FCSA at (601) 660-3857.

or in person at 1453 Main St. in Fayette.