NEENAH - Local health officials from around the Fox Valley gathered Friday to look for ways to cut down on the obesity problem they say is becoming an epidemic.
It's lunchtime at Menasha High School. On the menu Friday, green beans, tuna casserole and salad. Healthy foods that are part of an effort to change a growing problem in the Fox Valley.
"62% of the people that live in the Fox Valley are either overweight or are obese," said Appleton Health Department health officer Kurt Eggebrecht.
And it's a trend health officials say is getting worse.
"The change over even a five-year increment is going to a higher percentage of people that are obese," said Eggebrecht.
That's why 150 local health officials and community leaders are gathering for an obesity summit in Neenah. The gathering is the first step toward identifying the problem in the Fox Valley and how to find solutions.
"This is our opportunity to get folks together to start to talk about it and together to talk about the steps that collectively we can do," said ThedaCare Community health manager Paula Morgen.
Part of the focus will be on young people. Participants spent the lunch hour at Menasha schools eating with students and learning about school lunches.
More fruit and vegetable options are just one way school lunches are becoming healthier for students. But part of the problem is getting them to change their eating habits.
"Sometimes you can find some really good ones and sometimes they are just yuck," said Menasha High School sophomore Sam Burow.
"They'll just go and get unhealthy snacks instead," said Menasha High School sophomore Victoria Boucher.
The two-day summit won't solve the problem overnight, but Eggebrecht hopes it's a step in the right direction.
"This is the right time to start to address that and slow that trend."
The summit will continue next Friday.
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