The Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) Board of Directors passed two resolutions on Thursday during their regular quarterly meeting in support of policies to curb childhood obesity.
One resolution commended state, community and school efforts to support increased access to affordable and nutritious foods, and support safe and active transportation efforts. Another resolution recognized September as Childhood Obesity awareness month and endorsed several policies to support healthy habits for children including increased availability of fresh fruits and vegetables; physical activity opportunities; the creation and enhancement of local parks and walking trails; and active transportation infrastructure to promote walking and cycling.
“Enacting policies to decrease childhood obesity now will have a positive impact for a generation of Oklahomans,” said Dr. Bruce Benjamin, chair of the TSET Board of Directors. “Healthy habits learned young last a lifetime. The youngest Oklahomans are facing life expectancies shorter than their parents. It is vital we take action to promote healthy eating and increased physical activity.”
Local community programs and projects are an effective way to combat the two leading causes of death in Oklahoma—cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Community gardens and farmers markets increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Complete streets, including bike lanes and sidewalks, help make physical activity a part of a daily routine. Both can increase physical activity and reduce the risk of obesity, a major cause of cardiovascular disease and some cancers.
“TSET’s local partners across the state—cities, towns, schools and businesses—are key to improving the health of Oklahomans,” said TSET Executive Director Julie Bisbee, “Healthy habits come down to small decisions that people make every day, and a person’s local environment plays a role in that. TSET is proud to work with schools and communities across the state to improve the health and wellbeing of Oklahomans.”
Both resolutions recognize TSET’s constitutional mandate to support strategies and programs designed to maintain or improve the health and quality of life of Oklahomans.
“As a part of our constitutional mandate, the TSET Board of Directors has a responsibility to offer leadership and guidance to policy makers who want to build a healthier Oklahoma,” Benjamin said. “These policies are proven to help people live healthier lives, and we look forward to working with state and community leaders to bring those benefits to our fellow Oklahomans.”
TSET is funded by earnings from the investment of a portion of the payments received by the State of Oklahoma as part of the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement with Big Tobacco. The endowment trust in a long-term strategy to improve health, and the endowment ensures a long-term funding source for generations to come. Only the earnings from the endowment are used to fund grants and programs.