Fox Valley summit aims to take on obesity epidemic

A big push is underway to fight obesity in the Fox Valley.

NEENAH - A big push is underway to fight obesity.

The Weight of the Fox Valley summit was held in Neenah Thursday.

"We're in a public health crisis with obesity," said Winnebago County Public Health Director Doug Gieryn.

A crisis this group of Fox Valley leaders are not taking sitting down. In fact, they're exercising their minds to find creative solutions to encourage healthy, active lifestyles for everyone in the Fox Valley.

"We need everyone to partner on this. That includes parents, business owners, school and the entire community to have an impact. We need a collective effort to reverse the trend of obesity that is occurring right now," said Gieryn.

The Weight of the Fox Valley summit in Neenah is meant to be a starting point for engaging the community.

"Right now we just want people to have more healthy habits and to have people that can relate to this initiative," said Keren Rosenberg, Weight of the Fox Valley project manager.

One of the easiest ways to get active and healthy is to spend time and local parks. Like other communities, Appleton has dozens of them and the best part about parks is that they are free for everyone to enjoy.

"One of our initiatives is definitely pushing families with their children to get out and engage with them," said Appleton's recreation manager Niki Wendt.

Wendt says teens are also starting to get that message.

"They are definitely more aware at a younger age than maybe we ever were how important that health and wellness is."

Young people will be one of the primary targets for the summit in a battle against obesity that Gieryn says will take years to correct.

"The trending of obesity has gone up dramatically in the last few years, we're starting to stem that growth and hopefully we'll see a reverse in it soon."

Teams of community groups will begin implementing initiatives over the next few months.