Health director: Behavior key to improving wellness

Published 10:40 am Thursday, March 31, 2011

After a health study reflected mixed results in Mower County, Public Health is urging good nutrition as a way to improve health.

“One thing that I would like to see happen in Mower County is for everyone to focus on the value of good nutrition,” Mower County Public Health Director Margene Gunderson said in a press release.

Mower County showed some good signs and bad signs in a study analyzing county health, which can be found at

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Mower County improved by one point to rank 42 out of 85 Minnesota counties surveyed in health outcomes like low birth weight and premature deaths, but dropped from 60 to 51 in health factors like smoking, obesity and excessive drinking.

Gunderson said more people are looking to nutrition and other good health practices as keys to healthy living.

“Overall, there has been a shift to thinking about behavior as playing a big role in improving health,” Gunderson said. “There is a need for individual responsibility but there is also a need for community or environmental support in assuring good health. We all play a collective part in improving conditions in which people can be healthy.”

Public health has been active in schools, businesses and other organizations as a way to promote fitness, and warn about the health effects of smoking.

Gunderson said the State Health Improvement Project (SHIP) has presented opportunities to promote nutrition and physical activity. The project provides healthy snack carts in schools, sponsoring free family swim nights, and replacing run down equipment. The project also offers employee wellness programs and installs bike racks in communities.