Healthy Central Florida Launch Features Dr. Oz, Draws 500

DrOZ0189Healthy Central Florida (HCF)—a unique community-based partnership aimed at helping Central Floridians move more, eat healthier and get connected—launched before a crowd of 500 on February 6 with Dr. Mehmet Oz, cardiothoracic surgeon and host of The Dr. Oz Show, on hand to offer encouragement and praise.

“Healthy Central Florida is a big celebration of what life could be like,” said Dr. Oz. And if it remains on this celebratory level, HCF will resonate with and attract people because it reflects the joy they want in their lives, he explained.

Founded by the Winter Park Health Foundation and Florida Hospital, HCF is dedicated to making the local community the healthiest in the nation.

The primary focus for HCF is policy and environmental change. Research shows that behavior is impacted by environments – workplace cultures, family dynamics, school settings and community-level conditions. Focusing on individual behavior is no longer enough.

Among many tools, HCF is using a behavior-change strategy of asking individuals to take a “3:30:3” pledge – a commitment to be active three days a week, for 30 minutes, for three months. Many of the nearly 500 community leaders took the pledge on Monday, and they will also lead health and wellness initiatives in their organizations with HCF support.

Focused initially on Winter Park, Maitland and Eatonville, HCF has convened community leadership teams, including each community’s mayor, with representation from various sectors such as business, faith, education, health care and government.

“We know many of our local employers, schools and leading organizations are already doing great work promoting health and wellness,” said Patricia A. Maddox, WPHF president & chief executive officer. “Our hope is that Healthy Central Florida will encourage collaboration and be a catalyst, a convener, a resource and an inspiration for others working to make the healthy choice the easy choice – and the first choice – where we work, live, learn, play and worship.”

HCF unveiled a new web-based tool to help residents easily find fun ways to be active primarily in Winter Park, Maitland and Eatonville —  This interactive tool enables visitors to discover community resources, fitness classes, parks, trails and events—many at no or low-cost—for individuals and families. The search can be customized by details such as zip code, neighborhood, date, time available and environment. Those who visit also can submit information on new activities.

“The economic health and vibrancy of our region, as well as the health of our residents, is at stake, said J. Brian Paradis, executive vice president and chief operations officer at Florida Hospital. This is about the health and well-being of our entire community, and it will take all of us working together to reach our community’s fullest health potential.”

Acknowledging that this work is a marathon and not a sprint, the executive director of the new organization, Jill Hamilton Buss added, “True community level change won’t happen overnight. But when we study the radical shift in social norms for other health behaviors – smoking, drinking and driving or seat belt usage, we know we can change our local norms to ones of active lifestyles vs. sedentary ones.  We’re already on our way.”

An in-depth study of fitness, nutrition and related health behaviors in Winter Park, Maitland and Eatonville was commissioned by HCF.  The results of this research will be released soon and help guide the community teams as they develop community specific strategic plans. For more information on HCF, visit