It Takes a Village

August 10, 2011As our nation’s leaders continue to search for ways to address our financial woes, there are community leaders across the country working to address another looming problem area for Americans: obesity.Two-thirds of adults and nearly one-third of children and teens are currently obese or overweight, putting them at increased risk for more than 20 major diseases, including chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. What’s more, chronic diseases continue to be the number one cause of death, disability and rising healthcare costs in the U.S., burdening both our personal health and our country’s healthcare system. The encouraging news is that many chronic diseases and their risk factors, like obesity, are largely preventable and highly manageable with well-designed systems that put a multi-pronged focus on prevention, early detection, and care coordination.  This we know. By indentifying, participating in and promoting the successes of community-based initiatives to fight obesity it is possible to rally the support needed to help combat, and sustainably reduce, the growing incidence of chronic disease in this country. We cannot underestimate the critical role that a strong support system plays in shaping (or re-shaping) and preserving our health. The choices we make with regard to diet, fitness, social activities, friend groups, and so on contribute to how healthy a lifestyle we lead. In recognizing this, community leaders can leverage their influence and significantly strengthen the part they play in improving the health of members in their community.  Any effort to prevent chronic disease – no matter how small – puts us on the right path to achieving both a healthier population and a healthier economy.They say it takes seven touches for a message to truly reach an audience and impact their impression or behavior.  With this in mind, it’s going to take more than just doctors advising us to help change negative health patterns that lead to costly and debilitating chronic diseases; it’s going to take the support of individuals, family, friends, employers, policymakers, faith leaders, and the list goes on and on.  It’s going to take a village.  There are many Promising Practicesalready making a difference in your community and PFCD encourages you to get involved and take control of your health and wellness.