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Chuck Long touts health in Estherville

Former Hawkeye football player and Heisman runner-up said community health is vital

March 27, 2018
Amy H. Peterson - Staff Writer ( , Estherville News

Chuck Long and Dr. Amy Michelle Wilcockson visited Estherville Friday to promote Live Healthy Iowa. After a lunch meeting at the Regional Wellness Center, Wilcockson congratulated the participants in the Lifestyle Challenge for 512,000 minutes of physical activity.

Community participation in physical activity is a strength in Emmet County compared with the rest of the state. In 2016, Emmet County ranked second in the state on the Active Index, which measures the rate of physical activity. In 2017, the county fell to 13th in the state, based chiefly on student participation in Fall Fitness Day.

"Wouldn't you like to get back up to number two, or even number one," Wilcockson said?

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Wilcockson also talked numbers. The United States spends the most in the world on health care to the tune of $3 trillion. Americans fill 50 percent of the prescriptions on the planet.

"We're the world's biggest druggies!" Wilcockson said.

The numbers don't make sense and the health care system is in crisis, Wilcockson said.

"This is the first generation of kids who are less healthy than the generation before them," Wilcockson said.

Iowa is ranked 13th in the nation for its rate of obesity, the second leading preventable cause of death worldwide, Wilcockson said.

The rate has doubled in the last 30 years and Iowans report eating less than 1.7 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Five or more servings are recommended.

Emmet County's rate of obesity went up three percent to 36 percent last year. Physical activity is high, so the problem, Wilcockson said, is food choices.

"If we do nothing, we will be spending 44 percent of our income on health care," Wilcockson said.

There could be a more overarching issue, too. The model of compensation from insurance companies (to whom we will be shelling out so much of our earnings) will be to pay health care providers on outcomes versus services rendered.

If a patient keeps going to the doctor and remains sick or gets sicker, the doctor earns less.

If there's a community full of people whose doctors have been nagging them to lose weight, exercise, get in shape, and the patients don't do it and become less healthy, the doctors will pay.

"A doctor might leave an unhealthy community for a healthier one, or might decide to not locate to a community at all due to the rate of declining health," Wilcockson said.

Having an obese community could actually cause shortages of doctors where they're needed most to treat Type II diabetes, heart disease, and more, Wilcockson said.

"In more ways than one, we're killing our offspring," Wilcockson said.

There is good news.

Seventy-five percent of all chronic disease is reversible, reducible, and preventable.

"Just reducing the obesity rate to 2009 levels will save Iowa $1.6 billion in two years and $16 billion over five years," Wilcockson said.

Simple changes will help reverse the rate of obesity among young people especially, Wilcockson said.

"In the past we worked on the farm and were really active. We ate at home, not the drive through. Try food made by God; less packaging equals better for you. And kids can have more food made by mom at home around the dinner table instead of milkshakes and french fries on the go," Wilcockson said.

According to the most recent Health Needs Assessment, people in Emmet County considered obesity the number one health concern in the county.

Long and Wilcockson are traveling the state to promote health through Live Healthy Iowa. The organization is planning several upcoming events, including the Live Healthy 5k fun run/walk starting at 8 a.m. April 14 in Spencer with a 1k kids' run at 9 a.m. Registration is at

April 16 to May 25 is a chance for pups to get involved in the fun with the Strut your Pup challenge. Team up with a canine companion, get moving and track your inures of walking, running or active play through your online Live Helathy Iowa dashboard. The cost is $8 and includes a dog-friendly gift, email tips, personal tracking and an opportunity to win prizes.

Through the summer the burst your thirst challenge invites participants to track activity and water intake.

For more information, visit



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