ARDMORE, OK -- If you are feeling a little guilty about all that Halloween candy you ate then today might be the perfect time to start fresh. The American Heart Association has declared today as "National Start Eating Healthy Day".
The American Heart Association reports more than 90% of us decline to eat a "heart-healthy" diet on a regular basis. That is why today Mercy Oklahoma teamed up with the American Heart Association to raise awareness in 12 elementary schools across Oklahoma. One of them right here in Ardmore. Health workers taught students why it is vital to maintain a healthy lifestyle and even surprised them with some tasty treats.
Jefferson Elementary 5th grade student Kaitlyn Long says Wednesday she learned everyone should eat at least five servings of fruit a day and get plenty of exercise, and now she is spreading the word.
"It helps your body keep going and it helps you just do what you want to do," Kaitlyn said.
After the presentation hundreds of kids lined up to get some free fruit to promote healthy eating. A good start since experts say Oklahoma ranks last in the country for fruit and vegetable consumption, and state officials report that nearly 67% of Oklahoma adults are either obese or overweight. That is why Shana Hammond, with Mercy Memorial, says the hospital is helping people learn to change.
"Oklahoma as a state has been doing some things to try and be healthier, but yes, right here in Ardmore Mercy is trying to encourage not only the community and the schools with children, but our own co-workers in living a healthier lifestyle," Hammond said.
Hammond says building a healthier community starts with teaching our kids, and Kaitlyn says now that she understands the importance of eating healthy she is even sharing a little of her own advice.
"They can eat vegetables daily, drink some milk, fruit," Kaitlyn said.
Hammond says Mercy created a "Health Teacher Program" that is free for schools. It teaches students more in depth about how to stay healthy and why it is crucial to keep up a good diet.
She says Jefferson Elementary uses the program and that is why they were selected as one of the participating schools.