Tue, May 22, 2018 10:39 PM
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 issue
2003-08-01 tracking communities section
TOPS program implemented by Martin County Health Department
Cletus Turner
INEZ A new program at the Martin County Health Department is aimed toward helping those who need or want to lose weight obtain their goal.

Health department spokesperson Carol Holbrook said TOPS Taking Off Pounds Sensibly "doesn't promote" any specific diet program.

"The Department of Public Health approved the program because it doesn't promote any for-profit program," Holbrook said. "We know from other programs that a group support can be very effective."

According to Holbrook, TOPS does not plan a diet for its members. Instead, members, as with any diet, are encouraged, but not required, to go to their physician and plan a diet. Members must have a diet or plan of action when they come to the first meeting, which will be held at the Roy F. Collier Community Center Aug. 7 at 6 p.m. But those seeking information do not have to have the diet plan prepared. Those who will be enrolling that night can arrive at 5 p.m., pay their annual dues and participate in the first weigh-in. The TOPS program then supports its members in sticking to the diet and losing weight.

For those who do not have a diet prepared, TOPS members will have a discussion about eating healthy. Holbrook said that the food pyramid, reading labels and counting calories will also be discussed as ways to lose weight.

Typical meetings begin with a confidential weigh-in. Then a roll call allows the members to introduce themselves and announce how they are doing, whether they have lost weight or gained it. After the roll call, a program is presented. Holbrook said an area doctor has expressed interest in speaking and that a dietician might also speak to members.

"There is an annual fee for membership, but there are no weekly fees," Holbrook said. "Included in the fee is a monthly magazine that will have inspirational stories, recipes and how to stay with the dieting program."

The Martin County Health Department implemented the program because it had had so many requests for a weight program, Holbrook said.

"This is a public health problem," Holbrook said. "A growing percentage of Americans are overweight. Sedentary lifestyle, smoking and being overweight are public health problems."

When a person attends the first meeting, they are under no obligation to join. If you decide to join, there will be people at the meeting to help you fill out the simple application.

Exercise, as recommended by a physician, is also a key aspect in losing weight. TOPS recommends that each member talk with a physician and set up an exercise program. Some chapters of TOPS walk together at various times during the week for exercise.

For more information, call the Martin County Health Department at (606) 298-7752.

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