Story by Abby Siegel, News Editor
The results from the Rethink Your Drink campaign indicated Calloway County citizens decreased their sugar intake by 102 pounds during the challenge, said Susan Burkeen, Murray-Calloway County Wellness Consortium Obesity Workgroup coordinator.
The Rethink Your Drink campaign was part of Lighten Up Calloway, a five-year obesity fighting challenge, intended to educate community members about the amount of sugar in beverages and challenge them to choose healthier beverage options like water or skim milk.
The results of the challenge show that participants increased their consumption of healthy drink options by 15 percent over the four-week challenge period.
A total of 297 beverage-recording tools were completed and returned, and 364 participants received a diabetes-screening test. Undergraduate students represented about 83 percent of the total participants.
Thirty-five percent of the total participants screened, were in the pre-diabetes category. The results also show that more than half of those who indicated they had diabetes had poor blood sugar control, according to the Wellness Consortium.
Murray State students participated in the challenge and professors used the challenge in their course as a service-learning opportunity.
Miranda Terry, assistant professor, public and community health program director and Wellness Consortium Obesity Workgroup committee member, required her HEA 210 students to participate in the project. Students were part of an interprofessional team that “brought the challenge to campus.” They provided beverage tracking tools, assisted challenge participants in setting goals and assisted in data collection.
“This type of service-learning project for the students, especially public and community health students, helps them understand the different components of health promotion programming, which are skills they will be expected to have upon graduation,” Terry said. “It is something cool the students get to add to their resumes and talk about in job interviews.”
Priscilla Dwelly, assistant exercise science professor, had her EXS 353 class gather body measurements, and Dana Manley, associate professor of nursing, had her community health nursing class take students’ blood pressure.
Terry said she and her students were pleased with the number of people who participated in the initiative.
“While we would have loved to have the entire campus community engaged in the initiative, for this being the first community challenge, reaching 1 percent of your target population is still a good start,” Terry said.
The challenge stemmed from research about how obesity is affecting Calloway County. Kentucky is the seventh most obese state in the United States, and 29 percent of Calloway County’s adults are obese, according to research by the Calloway County Wellness Consortium.
“Obesity is a problem, and I think the campaign helped address it,” said Matthew Allen, junior from Tompkinsville, Kentucky.
Allen is in Terry’s HEA 210, health behavior, course, and said he had hoped more participants would have followed up with their beverage tracking results.
He said more people participated than expected, but the group will evaluate the program to make it better, as the Rethink Your Drink campaign was part of a multi-step initiative to reduce obesity. The next community challenge is in September and will focus on physical activity.
“As the campus community becomes more aware of these community challenges created by the Murray-Calloway County Wellness Consortium Obesity Workgroup, we hope more and more people – students, faculty and staff – choose to participate in the initiative in its entirety and complete the follow-up,” Terry said.