Diet and exercise are important factors affecting health. In an effort to battle childhood obesity across the nation and in our communities, KC HealthyKids is empowering children to eat healthy foods and lead active lifestyles. While healthy eating may seem like a straightforward change in personal behavior, there are environmental factors at play that contribute to one’s ability to make healthy choices and to follow through with lifestyle changes.
Parents may wish to provide their children with fresh fruits and vegetables, but their proximity to grocery stores or markets, not to mention the cost of produce, can make this a challenge in certain areas of the city. Additionally, a child may end up consuming large amounts of sugary and processed foods at school despite having a nutritious diet at home.
Similar issues may affect children's active lifestyles. A child may want to go to the park across a busy street, but can't get there safely because there are no crosswalks or traffic. Parents may want their children to walk to school, but without sidewalks, walking is not a safe option. Parents' work schedules may also be another deterrent. Adults may want to bike to their destination, but without bike lanes, they may not feel that they can safely navigate through dense commuter traffic.
KC Healthy Kids is working to solve these problems. They are leading the initiative in the Greater Kansas City region to make healthy food items available and affordable in communities, schools, and in workplaces. They help schools plan healthy activities into their school days, such as an exhibition for kids with a health theme or taking part in walking to school. KC Healthy Kids has conducted research and has observed case studies in order to create the plans which are to be implemented in local schools.
The organization also connects local farmers to schools in order to provide healthy, local food to families as a cost-effective and healthy solution to some of the problems I have outlined above. The organization also serves as a collaborative platform for information about urban gardens, bike trails, walking routes, parks etc. They have close partnerships with Rosedale Development Association (RDA) and the Ivanhoe Neighborhood Council (INC). However, more cohesive action at the community level is still needed in order to expand such programs and platforms so that all parts of the area have equal access to safe and healthy food and activities.
How is healthy eating and active living promoted in your city?
Credits: Images by Martin Seliger and Sunny Sanwar. Data linked to sources.