Did you know that for every $1 invested in food and nutrition education there is a $10 return in reduced health care costs? Or that childhood immunizations save $9.9 million in direct health care costs? Public Health saves lives and saves money too. Public Health week is April 6th-10th, 2016 but the Chatham Public Health Department celebrates the whole month of April! Check out the National Public Health Week website to see how we can become the healthiest nation in the world by 2030.
Here are some more public health facts from nphw.org
- Over 24 million homes have lead-based paint hazards, which put children at risk of lead poisoning.
- In 2013, nearly 5,000 pedestrians were killed in traffic collisions.3 The majority of these deaths are in low-income communities and communities of color, where sidewalks and streets are more likely to be poorly maintained.
- Many urban neighborhoods and rural towns have plenty of fast food chains and convenience stores but not enough grocery stores selling fresh, healthy and affordable food. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that 23.5 million people in the U.S. live in a food desert.
- Warmer weather exacerbates the risks of strokes, heart attacks, asthma attacks, and the spread of mosquito- and tick-borne diseases such as West Nile virus and Lyme disease.
- In 2012, the Institute of Medicine reported that “the current generation of children and young adults in the United States could become the first generation to experience shorter life spans and fewer healthy years of life than those of their parents.”
While National Public Health Week has passed, here in Chatham we celebrate all month long! And what a great time of year it is to do so. The weather is warming up, making it a great time to enjoy outdoors. Even if you weren’t able to spend National Walking Day with us, there are plenty of trails and parks to visit. Farmers’ markets are opening, making fresh, local, and nutritious produce accessible across the county. Think about other ways to incorporate health into parts of the day where we tend to make it secondary. For example, we are now becoming aware of the negative health effects of sitting at work all day, even if we exercise regularly. Luckily, there are new, creative ways to get up and still be productive.
What are you going to do to celebrate Public Health Month? Below are a few ways National Public Health Week was celebrated across the country:
“For the first time in decades, the current generation isn’t as healthy as the one that came before.” With advances in medical technology and perhaps a greater focus, if not obsession, on health than ever, this is a frightening trend. So, what can we do?
Going along with today’s National Public Health Week theme, “Be the healthiest nation in one generation,” the Chatham County Public Health Department is working hard to build healthy communities. Here is an example of a successful partnership between the health department and Town of Siler City, one that remains strong.
Siler City Pedestrian Master Plan- Last year, the health department partnered with the Town of Siler City on its Pedestrian Master Plan. The plan was the first of its kind to focus on pedestrian access to stores that sell healthy food. It also considers access to parks and greenways, as well as pedestrian safety. This partnership remains strong, with the health department contributing to a Safe Routes to School Project at Chatham Middle School in Siler City, as well as constructing ADA curb ramps at an intersection downtown prioritized in the Pedestrian Plan.
Today, Health Promotion Coordinators Jennifer Park and Sarah Weller are presenting at a state-wide health educator conference about this project and the importance of these partnerships. To become a healthier nation, we all need to come together to address the barriers to health and share what we learn in the process.
Today’s National Public Health Week Theme, Eat Well, is a good place to start when talking about living healthily. From health promotion and diabetes self-management programming, to food safety and even a little gardening, food is a major focus of what we do here and spans most of our divisions.
For some perspective on what simple changes can make eating well doable for those of us who like to indulge a little too often, Tara Gregory, Registered Dietitian, shared a few words of wisdom.
“Eating well can make all the difference! Start eating healthier today with just a few changes.
- Make half of your meals colorful vegetables and fruits. They are loaded with health benefits but with very few calories!
- Include quality protein at each meal and snack. Try chicken, fish, beans, or peanut butter as a few examples.
- Our bodies rely on water to function the way we want them to so swap out those sweetened drinks for more water. Try carrying a water bottle with you, taking sips from it throughout the day and refilling at water fountains.
Making positive changes to your diet can help you achieve health goals, prevent some illnesses, and feel better.”
Today’s National Public Health Theme, “Get Out Ahead,” focuses on the importance of disease prevention. All to often, our healthcare system considers the role of treatment in disease management without considering measures that can be taken to prevent a disease from occurring in the first place. Focusing on disease prevention can yield benefits to quality of life as well as economic savings. To public health advocates, prevention and public health are often synonymous. We spoke today with Sarah Weller, Health Promotion Coordinator, for her thoughts on what prevention means right here in Chatham County.
Sarah at the Open House
“The leading causes of death in Chatham County are heart disease and cancer. Both of these could be drastically reduced through healthy behavior choices. Simple changes in day-to-day activities, such as drinking water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages or taking the stairs instead of the elevator, could have long-term health benefits and help prevent chronic disease.”