Health Alliance has plan to thin out Tri-Cities

TRI-CITIES, Wash. - The Tri-Cities was told it was one of the fattest in the nation just last year. And those in charge of changing that stat have picked up the challenge head-on.

Katie Martinescu takes her toddler to the park every day. Katie places a lot of importance on exercise and physical activity.

"It's very important, I don't want him to be one of the kids sitting on his computer all day long being a lump," said mother Katie Martinescu.

The Benton-Franklin Health Alliance feels the same for the Tri-Cities.
They put together a Community Health Improvement Plan to make changes.

"We have struggled as a community with obesity for quite a long time and we have had issues with health access," said executive director Carol Moser.

Currently a third of people living in Benton and Franklin counties are considered obese. Not just overweight, but obese. This ends up costing our community more than a hundred million a year to treat.
If the rate of obesity was cut in half in the Tri-Cities, it would save more than 60 million dollars, but it's more than just the money.

"Leads to other chronic disease like heart disease, diabetes, some forms of cancer," said Moser.

The alliance doesn't think it has lofty goals. It is targeting a ten-percent drop in the obesity rate over just the next five years. This could come through programs like "Good Health is Good Business."
It's allows you to win prizes for being fit and that can start young with moms like Katie. The alliance wants five schools to take part in the "Safe Route to School" program that encourages other ways to get to class. Currently no local school are part of it.

"Enables, kids, parents, families to get more physically active during the day, by walking to school," said Moser.

And for moms like Katie, she has one plan to keep her kid healthy.

"We're just going to be outdoors and come to the park more," said Martinescu.

Right now, about half of people in the Tri-Cities get 30 minutes of physical activity a day. The hope is to raise that to 60-percent. We're just scratching the surface on the plans to get people healthy. If you'd like to read more on how to make it happen, go to