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Allegheny County Health Department Begins Planning Obesity Prevention Campaign

Allegheny County’s new health department director is setting her sights on obesity prevention.

Dr. Karen Hacker, who joined the department last week, gave a presentation about ways to address obesity during Wednesday’s meeting of the Allegheny County Board of Health.

“I think it’s a national issue," Hacker said. "Somewhere between 30-40 percent of the population is in the overweight category, and I just believe there’s a lot a community can do and a lot a public health department can do.”

The director is interested in taking a data-driven approach to obesity prevention, by gathering information from school districts, municipalities and other public and private organizations.

“I think the first step is understanding a little bit more from a data perspective, which is sort of where is our population?" Hacker said. "Where are the more important areas to be focused to be focused on? I think that also goes to getting a better understanding of what activities are already going on.”

The board plans to form task force to brand the campaign and plan specific initiatives. These initiatives will range from simple ideas, like “Walk with the Health Director” events in area parks, to complex projects such as school lunch interventions in local school districts.

Liz Reid began working at WESA in 2013 as a general assignment reporter and weekend host. Since then, she’s worked as the Morning Edition producer, health & science reporter and as an editor.