Connecticut received high marks in a ranking of state obesity rankings released recently. The rankings are part of a report by the Trust for America's Health that found obesity rates in the country continue to grow even with increased attention to the issue. This is a problem for Americans' health, but despite this bad news for the nation, there is some good news in Connecticut and especially in Darien.

One of TFAH's key recommendations for addressing obesity within health reform is to increase the number of programs available in communities, schools and childcare settings. Its aim is to help make nutritious foods more affordable and accessible and provide safe and healthy places for people to engage in physical activity.

In Darien, a team of leaders, including Darien Public School faculty and other town officials, convened by the Darien YMCA Executive Director Pat Morrissey, are working together to examine and address gaps in programs and services. Their goal is to promote physical activity and healthy eating in hopes of further reducing the risks associated with obesity and chronic disease. The YMCA, with an already broad range of health-related programs and services, is also focusing on children with special needs.

"Due to the complexity of children who have special needs, we believe that community-based environmental strategies are the most logical, practical and efficient way to proceed," Morrissey said. "Children with special needs may not receive sufficient attention in this area and their obesity trend has the potential to escalate even higher than anticipated. Through collaboration, I believe that we can address this and hopefully bring about policy change."

The Darien leadership team was brought together under the auspices of the YMCA's Healthier Communities Initiatives, Pioneering Healthier Communities, which is part of Activate America the YMCA's response to the nation's chronic disease crisis. Through Activate America, YMCAs are changing the way they work inside their facilities to make them more supportive of health seekers, people who need help adopting and maintaining a healthier lifestyle.

For more information, contact Morrissey at 203-655-8228, ext. 302, or e-mail pm@darien-ymca.org.