“Lasting changes will come from deep work by individuals to create systemic change.”
Reducing violence in neighborhoods enhances the community environ- ment and allows people to thrive. The prevention of violence facilitates community cohesion and participation, fosters neighborhood improve- ments, expands employment and educational opportunities, and improves overall health and well-being.
Violence influences where people live, work, and shop; whether parents let kids play outside and walk to school; and whether there is a grocery store or places for employment in the community. Violence jeopardizes health and safety directly— causing injuries, death, and emotional trauma. Witnessing or directly experiencing violence, as well as the fear of violence, are damaging, with consequences that also contribute to unhealthy behavior and a diminished community environment. Vio- lence and fear undermine attempts to improve healthy eating and active living, there- by exacerbating existing illnesses and increasing the risk for onset of disease, includ- ing chronic disease. They affect young people, low-income communities, and com- munities of color disproportionately. Violence and food- and activity-related chron- ic diseases are most pervasive in disenfranchised communities, where they occur more frequently and with greater severity, making them fundamental equity issues.
Chronic disease is a major health challenge—it contributes to premature death, lowers quality of life, and accounts for the dramatic rise in recent healthcare spend- ing. One striking example is the increasing prevalence of diabetes in the United States. Researchers predict that by 2034, the number of people suffering from dia- betes will likely double to 44.1 million, and related health care costs will triple to $336 billion.1 Improving healthy eating and active living environments and behaviors is the crucial link to preventing many forms of chronic disease. Health leaders have been making great strides in mounting a strong, effective response to chronic disease and in improving community environments to support healthy eating and activity. However, chronic disease prevention strategies—designing neighborhoods that encourage walking and bicycling to public transit, parks, and healthy food retail, or attracting grocery stores in communities that lack access to affordable fresh fruits and vegetables—are less effective when fear and violence pervade the environment. As more communities grapple with chronic disease, health practitioners and advocates are becoming increasingly aware of the need to address violence as a critical part of their efforts, and they are seeking further guidance on effective strategies.
The purpose of this paper is to provide guidance and deepen the understanding of the inter-relationship between violence and healthy eating and activity. It presents first-hand evidence based on a set of interviews Prevention Institute facilitated with community representatives—advocates and practitioners working in healthy eating and active living. Direct quotes from these interviewees appear in italics throughout this paper. In addition to the interviews, the Institute conducted a scan of peer- reviewed literature and professional reports that confirm the intersection between vio- lence and healthy eating and active living.3-12 …
**Prevention Institute was founded in 1997 to serve as a focal point for primary prevention practice—promoting policies, organizational practices, and collaborative efforts that improve health and quality of life. As a national non-profit organization, the Institute is committed to preventing illness and injury, to fostering health and social equity, and to building momentum for community prevention as an integral component of a quality health system.
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Some key policy changes that need to be made in the United States in order to prevent illness and improve the health of millions of Americans have just been outlined in the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) latest Healthier Americareport.***
The report includes a range of suggestions that focus on the prevention of chronic diseases, which currently affect more than half of the U.S. population. This would also help address the health problems facing today’s youth who are set to be the first generation that are less healthy than their parents. …
The recommendations involve some new and innovative approaches:
- Implementing a series of foundational capabilities to improve the country’s health system as well as restructuring public health programs with sustained funding.
- Establishing partnerships with nonprofit hospitals to develop new community benefit programs and expand support for prevention.
- Encourage that insurance providers compensate for all types of prevention strategies
- Ensuring that the Prevention and Public Health Fund continues and improve awareness of the Community Transformation Grant program.
- Maintain workplace wellness programs with employers as well as local and state governments.
The report also includes information about recommendations that are already in action:
- The Accountable Care Community (ACC) brought more than 70 different partners to help patients with type 2 diabetes in and out of the doctor’s office. The ACC managed to reduce the cost of care by more than 10 percent per month for patients with type 2 diabetes – meaning savings of around $3,185 per person yearly.
- The Boston Children’s Hospital implemented The Community Asthma Initiative (CAI) with the purpose of supporting children with asthma in the Boston area. The initiative helped reduce hospital admissions due to asthma-related causes by around 80 percent as well as reducing emergency visits due to asthma by 60 percent.
The report concludes that there are 10 main public health issues that need addressing:
- tobacco use
- healthy aging
- improving the health of minorities
- healthy babies
- environment health threats
- injury prevention
- controlling infectious diseases
- food safety
- Prevention urged to avoid a national health catastrophe (bizbeatblog.dallasnews.com)
- New Report from HSC and Trust for America’s Health Calls for Federal Action to Close Achievement Gap by Addressing School Health (healthyschoolscampaign.typepad.com)
- Comment: Take prevention seriously, make it a priority (timescolonist.com)
- Insight: Think preventive medicine will save money? Think again. (greatriversofhope.wordpress.com)
- The Seven States Least Prepared for Disaster (247wallst.com)
- Hawaii Rises to Second Healthiest State in Nation (damontucker.com)
- “Walk Across Texas” promotes healthier living (victoriaadvocate.com)
- National Shopping Program Aims To Support A Healthier Hispanic Community (paramuspost.com)
- Wendell Potter: Getting Young People to Work Against Their Own Best Interests: Here’s How It’s Done (huffingtonpost.com)
America’s Health Rankings Finds Preventable Chronic Disease on the Rise; Obesity, Diabetes Undermining Country’s Overall Health
- Nation made no progress in improving health in 2011 after three years of gains
- Modest decreases in smoking and preventable hospitalizations
- Dramatic increases in obesity and diabetes, combined with still-too-high levels of tobacco use, are putting more people at risk for preventable illness and higher health expenditures
- The Rankings indicates that every person that quit smoking in 2011 was offset by a person becoming obese
- 2011 is the first year no state had an obesity prevalence under 20 percent
- United Health Foundation launches “Take Action for Change” Facebook campaign to incent healthy behavior
Washington, D.C., Dec. 6, 2011 – United Health Foundation’s 2011 America’s Heath Rankings® finds that troubling increases in obesity, diabetes and children in poverty are offsetting improvements in smoking cessation, preventable hospitalizations and cardiovascular deaths. The report finds that the country’s overall health did not improve between 2010 and 2011 – a drop from the 0.5 percent average annual rate of improvement between 2000 and 2010 and the 1.6 percent average annual rate of improvement seen in the 1990s…..
- United Health Foundations Americas Health Rankings (bespacific.com)
- New Ways Calories Can Add Up to Weight Gain(wsj.com) “t isn’t so much what you eat, the study suggests, but how much you eat that counts when it comes to accumulating body fat.”
- Glimmer of Hope in U.S. Obesity Picture(Medical News Today)
- iOverweight people have a weight thermostat that is turned up too high (KevinMD.com)
- Prevalence of Obesity in the United States, 2009–2010 (full text reports)
+ More than one-third of adults and almost 17% of youth were obese in 2009–2010.
+ There was no change in the prevalence of obesity among adults or children from 2007–2008 to 2009–2010.
+ Obesity prevalence did not differ between men and women.
+ Adults aged 60 and over were more likely to be obese than younger adults.
- Vermont keeps title of healthiest state, report shows – Reuters (reuters.com)
- America’s Health Rankings 2011: Which state scored worst? (cbsnews.com)
- Obesity And Diabetes Undermining America’s Overall Health (medicalnewstoday.com)
- Cough-cough, puff-puff. Oklahoma looks a little sick (newsok.com)
- Tennessee moves up 3 slots in U.S. health ranking (knoxnews.com)
- America’s Health Report Card: Needs Improvement (webmd.com)
- Report: America’s Health Deteriorated In 2011 (thinkprogress.org)
- America’s Health Rankings 2011 Released (aa47.wordpress.com)