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MPB Highlights Obesity in Mississippi and GA Carmichael Family Health Center

Posted: 16-Aug-2017

Too much Comfort foods, lack of exercise, and Mississippi's poverty rate put the state at number two on the Obesity scale nationwide. As part of our new series "State of Obesity." MPB's Desare Frazier takes a look at some of the issues making and keeping Mississippians fat. 

The story highlights Dr. Murriel at G.A. Carmichael Family Health Center in Canton, MS, and patient MS. Falasha Reed who is also the head nurse at G.A. Carmichael. Hitting close to home, this shows that even in a healthcare setting, it can be difficult to manage a healthy lifestyle. From MPB's Desare Frazier story:

That's what Falasha Reed is doing. The 45-year old married mother of four is the head nurse at the G.A. Carmichael Community Health Center in Canton. At 323 pounds she has high blood pressure, sleep apnea and her joints ache.  It began when she was born premature.

"Any time you're a smaller child, they push to eat, push you to eat, they push you to eat. So, then I started eating. Then I stuttered so you know compensating for the stuttering and kids picking on me I ate," said Reed. 

Reed says her father's side of the family is big and relatives tell her she's supposed to be large too. She's  meeting with the community health center's Medical Director, Dr. Takita Murriel. 

"Tell me about your diet," said Dr. Murriel. "How is my diet? It is awful. I don't eat until lunch time. I'll be honest with you. I don't eat until lunch time and Cokes are my vice. I drink about 3 or 4 cokes a day," said Reed.

Dr. Murriel says 90 percent of her patients are overweight. She says getting people to change their eating habits is hard. They don't want to give up the taste of fat and salt like bacon, commonly used in southern cooking. 

"I've had patients come in, they're diabetic with high blood pressure and say they ate a piece of sausage and a piece of bacon and a biscuit for breakfast. And it's like 'ok no mame, that's just not how we need to do this,' "said Dr. Murriel.

For low-income patients, Dr. Murriel says lack of money is a barrier to eating healthy, leaving people with no option but to buy foods higher in calories. 

"If I have $20 and I gotta feed my family of four, McDonald's can feed everybody. But trying to go through the fresh fruit aisle and get the fresh meat, it's almost a no brainer," said Dr. Murriel. 


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