It’s unfortunate but true: diet, nutrition, fitness, and healthcare all lag behind in low-income communities, when compared to middle and upper-class neighborhoods. The question is, what, if anything, can be done to make these areas healthier?
2 Tips for Making Poor Communities Healthier
One of the biggest problems with generational poverty in low-income communities is that lawmakers, regulators, and politicians all try to slap Band-Aids on the symptoms, rather than address the core problems.
And, to be quite frank, it’s becoming obvious that policies and government programs aren’t the solutions to dealing with the tremendous health disparity that exists in these neighborhoods.
The better approach is to empower entrepreneurs, business owners, doctors, health coaches, physical trainers, dieticians, chefs, restaurant owners, etc. and encourage them to take up the cause on a person by person basis.
At Rush University in Chicago, student Kristen Obiakor recognizes the inequalities and is a firm supporter of getting more qualified health professionals to work in underserved communities.
“In my mind, we shouldn’t hold back the unique abilities we have to offer; we shouldn’t hold back in understanding perspectives of diverse populations or the social determinants of health within the communities that surround us,” Obiakor explains. “I want to live in a world where health and equity are non-exclusive. I believe in our ability to one day achieve that.”
What would it take to achieve that sooner rather than later? While it’s a massive challenge that requires a lot of moving parts, here are two core ideas and options to start with.
1. Healthier Food Options
One of the biggest issues is that low-income neighborhoods often don’t have access to healthy food options, at least within short walking or driving distance. As such, they resort to what they do have – fast food joints and unhealthy corner stores that are filled with potato chips, Twinkies, sugary drinks, and unhealthy frozen/pre-packaged meals. One solution is to stock these corner stores with healthier options, rather than going through the process of launching totally new stores.
“Initiatives like the Healthy Corner Stores Network aim to diversify bodegas’ offerings,” health blogger Sarah Parsons writes. “The network and its more than 600 members support plans to expand corner stores’ stock to include fresh fruits and veggies, lean meats, and whole grains. Bringing nutritious foods to corner stores helps lessen the link between obesity and living in a food desert.”
2. Weight Loss Education
“Compared to adults making $75,000 or more, those making less than $20,000 were 50 percent less likely to exercise, 42 percent less likely to drink a lot of water, and 25 percent less likely to eat less fat and sweets,” The Atlantic reports. “And adults making between $20,000 and $75,000 were about 50 percent more likely to use over-the-counter diet pills, which aren’t proven to work.”
Aside from a lack of nutritious food products, one of the other primary reasons you see such high rates of obesity in poor communities is that there’s no proper education on how to lose weight and stay fit.
While the concepts of losing weight and staying in shape might seem obvious to someone who has grown up in an environment where health is a major priority, these are foreign ideas in low-income neighborhoods. Changing educational curriculum and involving local healthcare professionals in the teaching process will lead to positive change in this area.
Change Happens on a Micro Level
Change doesn’t happen when the government comes in and launches a massive initiative. Real change happens when individuals with specific skills and experiences enter into these communities and create meaningful change that’s both substantive and sustainable.
Will you be a part of the solution?
If you believe in the work we are doing here at The Good Men Project, please join like-minded individuals in The Good Men Project Premium Community.