Back to the Basics Health and Wellness Movement Blog By: Lovie Anderson, M.T.S, MAEd, LBSW What is a movement? A movement is individuals coming together taking action, such as advocacy, toward a common goal of changing certain conditions in which they lived. Back to the Basics Health and Wellness Movement is declaring a “Call to Action” to combat the child obesity epidemic in our Fort Worth, Texas urban neighborhoods. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the percentage of overweight children in America is growing at an alarming rate, with 1 out of 3 kids now considered overweight or obese. Many kids are spending less time exercising and more time in front of the TV, computer, or video-game console. Also, in today's world of work, families have fewer free moments to prepare nutritious, home-cooked meals. From fast food to electronics, quick and easy are the realities for many families. In some instances, low income parents believe that cheap fast food is the only affordable choice. Due to limited resources such as nutritional education, transportation, finances, and the threat of walking in unsafe neighborhoods looking for better food choices – one can understand the logic of their belief that fast food is the only choice. The majority of children from lower-income families, who depend on food stamps and other public assistance for their meals, suffer from food insecurity. Nevertheless, helping kids’ lead healthy lifestyles begins with parents who lead by example. Preventing kids from becoming overweight means adapting the way families’ eats and exercises, and how they spend time together. One may ask, “What do you mean - back to the basics?” Well, I was reared in a small town, Temple, Texas. My parents and God parents raised their own livestock, planted fruit trees and gardens. Those animals were grass-fed so they could produce healthy meats and our gardens were full of collard greens, tomatoes, broccoli – well you get the picture. We were eating somewhat healthy proteins, fresh fruits and vegetables. On the other hand, we eat too much
fried foods and pork; yet we still had access to fresh foods and healthy choices. We knew and treated our local farmers like family. They would bring their homemade stands made out of old pile wood and nails, displayed their crops, and we purchased seasonal fresh vegetables and fruits. Neighbors looked out for each other making sure that our children and neighborhoods were safe. The average person, particularly those individuals who did not live in “da hood”, would have considered my family and six siblings’ poor. With love and biblical principles, our parents made us feel rich and we simply did not know that we were disadvantaged. We should have had a clue because we walked everywhere we needed to go such as to school, work, church, etc. Eating from our gardens and exercising daily were a way of life for us. In today’s society, we need to return back to the basics – biblical fundamental truths, values, morals, teaching our children about respect and honesty! Well, I will save these topics for another blog. But today, we need to focus on eating healthy and being active. According to Texas Department of State Health Services and Tarrant County Public Health, the following chart shows the prevalence of health indicators for adults aged 18 and older living in zip code 76105 (Polytechnic Heights) in 2009 /2010: HEALTH INDICATOR
TARRANT (ENTIRE) COUNTY
Due to obesity and these risk factors, we are recruiting individuals, families, and social services agencies from the Polytechnic Heights area (zip code 76105) for a Call to Action. Poverty and obesity have proven to be close companions. According to Tarrant County Census 2000, a majority of the families living in the zip code 76105 area were earning between $15,000 – 20,000 yearly - below the poverty level (ex. a family of 4, mostly African Americans and Hispanics). Observing these statistics should be a reason enough to summon a call to action for obesity prevention and reduce these diseases so they will no longer affect our children in 76105. However, it is important for us to understand that unhealthy eating habits are not the only reason why children and their families are overweight or obese. For instances, obesity prevention and good health includes clean air and water, safe outdoor spaces for physical activity, safe worksites, healthy foods, violence-free environments and healthy homes. Secondly, obese moms are 10 times more likely to have obese daughters, according to new research and obese dads are six times more likely to have obese sons, according to a British study of 226 families at Plymouth's Peninsula Medical School. The study, published in the
International Journal of Obesity, found that 41 percent of eight-year-old daughters of obese mothers were obese, as compared to 4 percent of girls whose mothers were normal weight. Also, the boys of the group, 18 percent, were obese. One may ask, “so what?” “This study is about families from another country.” Well, the study is significant because it means that efforts to curb obesity should focus on parents as well. According to Suzanne Rostler, nutritionist at Children's Hospital in Boston, "DNA is not destiny and there is a lot a parent can do in terms of role modeling," she says. "Parents should be the primary target since they make the majority of decisions about which foods to bring into the home and how those foods are prepared." Personally, I do not need to research professional journals to know that these statements are true. My mother died an early death at the age of 59 due to obesity and heart disease. My precious sister, Evie, died unexpectedly on February 11, 2009 – less than 15 days after her 56th birthday. We were not sure exactly why she died – but we are certain that obesity was a factor. I am on a weight loss journey to make sure that this tragedy does not take my life before I reach my 56th birthday. My husband and I have learned to cook and eat healthy because our very lives depend upon it! We have incorporated the following into our daily meals – fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean proteins (fish, turkey, chicken, and occasionally lean beef). Physical activities like riding bicycles and walking on our treadmill or in our neighborhood are helping us improve our health. Therefore everyone – tenants, homeowners, businesses, educators, nutritionists, public health professionals, police officers, social services agencies and every community member has a role in creating a safe and healthier city. This movement is a family-focused health and wellness program. If you live in the Polytechnic Heights or work as a social service provider, community leader, business owner, police officer or concerned citizen – please contact me, Lovie Anderson. As an educator, social worker, and an individual on a weight loss journey – I am committed to preventing and reducing the child obesity rates in Fort Worth, Texas urban neighborhoods. I have some ideas that will reduce child obesity and looking forward to hearing your ideas. If you want to be a part of the solution to the growing healthcare crisis, contact me at email@example.com.
Let’s build a coalition to keep families and neighborhoods safe and healthy!