This week marks the 19th National Public Health Week, a week dedicated to recognizing the contributions of public health and ways to improve our nation’s health. This year’s theme, “Public Health is ROI: Save Lives, Save Money,” emphasizes the value of prevention and the importance of well-supported public health systems in preventing disease, saving lives and curbing health care spending.
National Public Health Week prompts us to reflect on the current state of our nation’s health and how we are responding to the changing landscape. Over the past three decades, childhood obesity rates in America have tripled, with obesity now affecting 18% of children. Obesity rates are even higher in African American and Hispanic communities, where nearly 40% of children are overweight or obese. Research shows that children and adolescents who are obese are likely to be obese as adults and are at increased risk for health problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, strokes and several types of cancer.
So, what can we do to improve our nation’s public health? How can we provide a healthier, more vibrant future for our children? How can we improve neighborhoods, schools and homes to create living spaces that promote healthy living?
Informing Change is proud to work with many organizations engaged in improving community health. These organizations are trying to “get to the roots” of health problems in their communities by identifying and addressing causes of ill health and focusing on prevention. Through our work, we have seen these strategies in action as community members:
- Promote physical activity in safe spaces
- Create community health networks
- Advocate for environmental and land use improvements in neighborhoods
- Train adults and youth to provide health education to their peers
- Develop gardens and farmers markets in community centers or schools
While these organizations are working hard to improve the health of Americans and create a healthy future for all children, they can’t do it alone. Everyone has a role to play in improving our public health, including parents, elected officials, schools, health care professionals, faith-based and community-based organizations, and private sector companies. What will you do to promote a healthy future?