Michigan was named the 10th-most obese state in the nation in July. In light of this staggering ranking and other alarming health statistics, Republican Gov. Rick Snyder unveiled a health care plan that aims to promote overall wellness for Michigan citizens.

The obesity rate in Michigan is among the highest in the nation — almost 70 percent of the state’s residents are overweight or obese — and this number has steadily risen for the past 15 years. But Snyder is taking realistic action to combat this statistic. His plan includes providing healthier cafeteria choices to schoolchildren, improving exercise programs and keeping track of cases of childhood obesity by putting the data into a state registry.

A primary aspect of the proposal is the plan to require pediatricians to report their patients’ body mass indices. While monitoring children’s BMI may seem invasive, the practice should ultimately prove beneficial. Based on their BMI, 12.4 percent of children in the state are considered obese and obtaining information to track obesity data can help communities form comprehensive plans to combat childhood health issues. Efforts like providing healthy, affordable school lunches and ensuring children see a doctor regularly will help Michigan children develop positive habits for the future.

Another aspect of Snyder’s proposal is to ban smoking on beaches— a measure comparable to the University smoking ban that went into effect in July. Smoking poses widely known health risks, and health care modifications should promote statewide education and assistance in curtailing these risks. But the decision whether or not to smoke should ultimately reside in the hands of individual citizens, not the government.

In addition to attempting to curtail smoking, his “4×4” plan emphasizes the importance of a balanced diet, regular exercise and yearly physicals. These efforts are appropriate and beneficial because they promote wellness while simultaneously allowing residents to make positive choices for themselves.

Snyder’s plan also seeks to combat autism in children. Believing that those with the disorder are best treated early in development, Snyder proposed to help families with autistic children by providing them with better health coverage as well as treatment options. In his statement, he explained that Michigan is one of the worst states to raise an autistic child. Improvements in care for young children are important in combating autism.

The proposal also called for a new method for health insurance in the state — the MIHealth Marketplace. With an unofficial start date of Jan. 2014, the plan would cover upwards of 500,000 Michigan citizens and be overseen by a nonprofit firm. Unlike many conservative governors who are fighting President Barack Obama’s health care initiative, Snyder is showing bipartisanship by developing an insurance program that is in line with the federal government’s plan.

Many alterations in Snyder’s health care reform plan are common sense. The state should get behind the changes and show a commitment to improvements in the overall health and wellness of Michigan’s citizens.

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