When it comes to extra pounds Tucumcari is just as concerned as the rest of the nation.
Obesity reduction and prevention is one of the top concerns of Tucumcari and Quay County area residents, according to a recent survey.
Residents’ other priorities were substance abuse, teen pregnancy prevention and suicide prevention, the survey found.
The survey is one that is taken every four years by the Quay County Maternal Child and Community Health Council and determines the council’s work over the next four years, said MCCH Coordinator Alida Brown. One thousand surveys were distributed earlier this year throughout the community and the response rate was 41 percent.
At a meeting on Tuesday the council listed its priorities and actions to address the four areas.
To reduce obesity, Brown said, the council will partner with other community groups and agencies to:
l Increase opportunities for physical activity
l Increase community access to accurate nutrition and fitness information
l Improve access to health care systems
l Conduct an annual fitness event.
The high rate of diabetes and heart disease in the community are some of the signs and symptoms that the community needs to address obesity, Brown said.
“The two leading causes of death in Quay County are heart disease and cancer, which are directly linked to obesity. The diabetes death rate in Quay County is twice the rate of the United States and 30 percent higher than the rate in New Mexico,” Brown said.
The Quay County Extension Service is currently offering an exercise and cooking program designed for persons with diabetes which illustrates one of the ways that the council partners with local groups to address the priorities, Brown said.
An annual survey of teens also showed that many middle and high school students said they were overweight.
To reduce substance abuse, there are plans to increase community awareness and to work with the county’s ASAP and DWI programs. ASAP, for example, is already working in the schools in the area of prevention.
There also are plans for an eight-county coalition to establish a residence program in Fort Sumner for people with alcohol and drug addictions, Brown said. The counties are Quay, Curry, Roosevelt, De Baca, Harding, Union, Guadalupe and San Miguel counties.
Plans are also in the works to coordinate more with law enforcement agencies to reduce underage drinking.
According to the 2007 Youth, Risk and Resiliency Survey, 48 percent of Quay County high school students reported drinking in the past 30 days, 38 percent had their first drink before the age of 13, 27 percent drink in their own home and 48 percent drink in someone else’s home.
To reduce teen pregnancies:
l The council’s committee chair on teen pregnancy, Jean Morales, said there are plans to work with school boards and officials, and with school health educators to offer programs to students on pregnancy prevention and sexually transmitted diseases.
Students need information to make appropriate decisions about their lives, said Brown, citing the YRR survey. The survey indicates that in Quay County, half of the county’s high school students have had sexual intercourse, one-third are currently sexually active and over 8 percent had sex before age 13.
To enhance suicide prevention programs:
l The council will continue its program of SOS, or Signs of Suicide, for schools and staff, and an anti-bullying program has also been established at the Tucumcari Elementary School.
“Twenty-four percent of Quay County youth have been depressed enough to discontinue their routine activities, and 10 percent made suicide plans and 10 percent made a suicide attempt,” Brown said. “Our rates are lower than the state averages, and lower than they have been in previous surveys. This tells me that the work we have been doing in the schools has helped, because the kids no longer have to carry it by themselves. They know who to turn to and they don’t have to carry this depression alone.”
In addition to working on these goals, the council also wants to increase its membership among the community, Brown said.
The public is invited to attend these future meetings:
March 16, 8:15 a.m., Obesity Reduction and Prevention Committee, Quay Public Health Office, 402 E. Miel De Luna.
March 18, 11:30 a.m., Substance Abuse Committee meeting at K-Bob’s Restaurant.
March 24, 11:30 a.m., regular meeting of the MCCH Council, Mesalands Community College, Room 212.
For more information contact Alida Brown at 461-3506.