Gale Thomssen is vice-chairwoman of the Carson Area Coalition on Obesity, which formed in February. She is also the clinical programs director of Great Basin Primary Care Association, and has been involved in promoting healthful lifestyles for about the past 15 years.
She is past president of the American Cancer Society and past volunteer director of Carson Advocates for Cancer Care. Prevention is the best cure and the least expensive, she says.
What is the Carson Area Coalition on Obesity, and when did it form?
Back in November 2004, Nevada Public Health Foundation invited members of communities around the state to participate in a series of meetings to discuss the statewide issue of obesity. The overall purpose of these meetings was to identify issues relating to obesity for Nevada residents.
Several groups, especially here in Carson City and in Reno, were anxious to put their work into practice. Our excitement on what we could make happen grew with leaps and bounds. The result is we now have the Carson Area Coalition on Obesity with members from Carson City, Douglas, Lyon and Storey counties.
Does data suggest that obesity is a problem in the state and in the city?
Yes. The State Health Division has the statistics. Obesity is a growing national problem. Many of us have become very sedentary. We drive everywhere. Really take a look at what we as Americans are drinking: sodas and high-sugar drinks, and diet sodas filled with chemicals.
I was driving down Curry Street today, and there was a young mom and her 3-year-old son. Both mom and son had a SuperSize soda in their hands. The mom was obese, and the child will end up with rotten teeth. We are what we eat.
What are the backgrounds of people on the coalition?
Our coalition is made up of a wide variety of members from interested citizens, the school district, Carson-Tahoe Hospital, Washo Tribe, Boys & Girls Club of Western Nevada, city and state offices, small businesses.
We have nurses, nutritionists, dietitians, gardeners, bikers, paper pushers, educators, but all have one thing in common: a desire to make our communities a healthier place to live. Come join us.
Does the coalition's work target obesity in Carson City?
Yes, our coalition is targeting Carson City, Douglas, Storey and Lyon counties. We expect to participate in a wide variety of projects and events in all four counties. Our goals include expanding opportunities for physical activity, increasing lifelong healthful nutrition, reversing the trend of overweight and obesity, expanding education and knowledge of healthy behavior and lifestyles to improve overall wellness, and advocating for policies consistent with overweight and obesity prevention and reduction.
What projects are under way?
We are supporting and looking for volunteers for the Great American Weight Loss Challenge that will begin in September. We will start our own TV show, featuring physical activities, health food choices, food safety, safe bike trails, events and gardening.
I understand the coalition is sponsoring a dairy recipe competition. What is that about?
We have written a grant to the Northern Nevada Dairy Council and are waiting to see if it will be funded. This Media Project will target high school youth, creating TV nutrition programs through a recipe contest utilizing low-fat and nonfat milk, cheese and yogurt as the main ingredients.
Each contestant will have to explain in a written statement how their recipe gives energy and promotes healthy living. There will be six winners at each school: ninth to 10th graders and 11th to 12th graders, one winner each with milk, cheese and yogurt.
Each of the winners will then have a half-hour TV show to make his or her recipe and explain the nutritional elements.
How often do you have meetings, and do you need comments from residents?
Our coalition meets once a month on the first Tuesday of the month at 7:30 a.m. at the Great Basin Primary Care Association office 515 W. Fourth St. Comments are always welcome, but what we really need is for you come and help put your ideas into actions. For questions, either check out our Web site or call 884-0392 or 887-0417, ext. 106.
We have many subcommittees that meet at different times and include nutrition, physical activity, gardening, youth, fund-raising, media and chronic disease.
What can the public do to support the coalition?
Join a committee, come to a meeting, help at an event. Got a bicycle? Get on it and ride, if not start walking. Each of us needs at least one hour a day to be physically active. Turn off the TV and enjoy our wonderful area.
Need a snack? Choose fruit or vegetables. Eat whole-grain breads and pastas. Keep sugar to a minimum. Learn your proper portion size and stick with it. Got a healthy recipe? Send it and tell us where it came from, especially if it was handed down in your family.
How can the public find out more information about the coalition?
Check out our Web site at www.gbpca.org/wellness then go to Obesity Coalitions, then Carson Area. We are adding new information all the time with links to many organizations.