City, schools drive home need for healthier focus.

Garden City Vice Mayor Roy Cessna went back to school Monday to share an important message. During a visit to Georgia Matthews Elementary School, Cessna read a proclamation from the city declaring Monday though Friday as Health Awareness Week in Garden City.

Six areas of health nutritional health, physical health, mental health, health through safety, tobacco prevention and health through screening and prevention are being addressed during Health Awareness Week in local schools.

It's always good to see such an emphasis in schools. Young people should learn early on how exercise, proper nutrition and other healthy choices matter when it comes to their future well-being.

Of course, wellness initiatives are nothing new in Garden City USD 457, which has been honored by the state for such savvy strategies as walk/run events and related training programs, walking programs before school, fitness clubs, staff exercise classes, evening community health and wellness events and monthly health challenges.

The proclamation read Monday by the vice mayor also urged residents of the city to take advantage of the many wellness opportunities available locally.

Children and adults in the community have easy access to nice parks, playgrounds and community centers where they can be active. Add in local pathways for walking, jogging and biking, and many good and affordable venues exist for all ages.

With adequate exercise and healthy eating, we stand to reverse a troubling trend related to weight gain.

The rate of obesity more than doubled from 1995 to 2010 in the Sunflower State, ballooning from 15 percent to 30.1 percent. Now, about two-thirds of Kansans are considered overweight or obese.

Rising health care costs and lives lost because of diabetes, heart disease, cancer and other ailments brought on by obesity are ample cause to encourage Kansans to make changes starting early in life.

While schools have made headway in nutrition and wellness initiatives in recent years, there's always more to do.

School is the place for students to learn many lessons, including ways to stay healthy. Credit the city and local school district for working together on a pressing health-related quality-of-life issue.