When access to affordable, nutritious foods and opportunities for physical activity are built into our community’s design, we live healthier.
Making the Case
Communities across the nation are facing a growing prevalence of obesity and associated preventable chronic diseases - the Tri-State is no different. Currently, in our region, one-third of adults are obese - higher than the national average. Tri-State children are also affected, with a third of our youth either obese or overweight. Unfortunately, excess weight dramatically increases the risk of many conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, and some cancers. In January 2016, the World Health Organization warned, “…obesity is particularly concerning and has the potential to negate many of the health benefits that have contributed to increased life expectancy.” In their 2012 report, Trust for America’s Health cautioned, “…the current generation of young people could be the first in U.S. history to live sicker and die younger than their parents' generation.” The solution is not in access to health care alone because obesity is difficult and expensive to treat. Prevention is necessary - through community solutions focused on policy, systems, and environmental changes - ultimately leading to lifestyles that incorporate healthy eating and active living.
Community Approaches for Advancing HEAL in the Tri-State Region
For more than 15 years, the Welborn Baptist Foundation (the Foundation) has been investing in communities across 14 counties in order to improve the health and welfare of residents in the Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky Tri-State region it serves. The Foundation refined its grantmaking approach in March 2016 with a commitment to foster a culture of healthy eating and active living by strategically directing resources to support population health improvement.
Linked below is a white paper that describes the urgency of focusing on healthy eating and active living in the Tri-State region. It identifies policy, systems, and environmental change approaches with the potential to 1) increase healthy eating, 2) increase active living, and 3) achieve important co-benefits that, together, will contribute to population health improvement. The paper recognizes that how the work is done is just as important as what work is done. Finally, it outlines critical practices that support the comprehensive, collaborative work required to create and sustain population-level impact.
A culture of Healthy Eating & Active Living will contribute to the following community changes:
- More residents of all ages are meeting the recommended guidelines for nutrition and physical activity
- Fewer residents of all ages will have weight-related chronic disease
The Foundation has identified three specific strategies that rely on comprehensive planning and systemic change:
- Nutritious Food and Beverage Availability – Increasing opportunities for healthy eating
- Physical Activity Opportunities – Increasing opportunities for active living
- Healthy School Environments – Increasing opportunities to facilitate systems change within individual schools