Communities across America are becoming healthier

Our health as a nation depends on much more than our access to the healthcare system. Indeed, as I have blogged here many times before, the greatest contribution to our miserable health in this country are our behaviors, which in large part are modifiable. Obesity and cigarette smoking are responsible for about one million deaths a year-totally preventable.

In an effort to prevent obesity and promote healthy lifestyles, communities across America are beginning to promote exercise and healthy eating in an effort to prevent childhood obesity. As reported in USA Today Summerville, MA began a program, Shape Up Summerville, which at first targeted elementary school children, 44% of whom were overweight.

With grants from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and philanthropic groups, the researchers had schools replace French fries, candy, soda and other unhealthful foods with fresh fruit, skim milk and other nutritious choices. The city added bike lanes and pedestrian crosswalks to encourage people to exercise. Restaurants offered more healthful items on menus; residents planted community gardens.

After just one year, the schoolchildren first targeted showed results: They gained 15% less weight than other average kids their age. Twice as many people were riding bikes along the community’s bike paths. It can be done. communities across America are doing it!

In another report, it was found that children who go to a school that located within a block of a fast-food restaurant tended to be fatter than those who went to a school farther away.

Get involved in your communities and support more efforts like those in Summerville, MA, and let’s act now to insure our future.

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