A family enjoying a healthy meal outdoors

Research is finding that our zip codes determines our health more than our genetic codes. The environments in which we live and spend our days – our homes, schools, workplaces and communities – have a large impact on our overall health. By focusing our efforts on making those environments more supportive of healthy lifestyles, we can improve the health of all citizens and begin to reverse the trend of childhood obesity in Idaho.

Improved walking and biking paths, more parks and playgrounds, better access to fresh fruits and vegetables, healthier food options in public venues, and education and support for parents, teachers and childcare providers – these changes can have a real impact on the health of a community.

Tip 1

Create a Community Team

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Creating a community team and conducting a needs assessment can be an impactful tool for gaining momentum to improve access to nutritious foods and reverse childhood obesity in your community. Community teams could consist of representatives from the following sectors:

- Mayor
- City Council
- School
- Faith-Based Organization
- Hospital
- Health District
- Media
- Parks and Recreation
- Non-Profit Organizations
- Chamber of Commerce
- Business
- Police Department
- Community Member(s)

A needs assessment can give the community team insight into existing strengths that can be mobilized and opportunities for improvements, and can assist in making decisions about where to focus resources to improve nutrition in the community.

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Tip 2

Start a community garden

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Community gardens create a place where residents can learn about gardening, socialize and gain access to nutritious food. Additionally, children who help tend gardens are more likely to eat fruit and vegetables. Get your community garden started today!

Tip 3

Start a local farmer’s market

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Farmers Markets offer fresh foods from local farmers and gardeners and help support the local economy. They can be held indoor, outdoor, or be a mobile unit that visits different neighborhoods. They can range in size from a few booths to multiple city blocks. Farmers Markets bring communities together and create opportunities for residents to socialize and purchase fresh fruits and vegetables.

Tip 4

Provide healthy options at public venues

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Providing healthy options such as salads and chicken wraps are a great healthy alternative to traditional food options frequently served at public venues and community events.

Offering healthy options at public venues demonstrates a community’s commitment to addressing childhood obesity. For example, you can offer turkey sandwiches on whole-wheat bread at park concessions and public recreational facilities such as swimming pools.

Another step is to establish nutrition standards using the Dietary Guidelines for Americans for food and beverages sold in public venues, at community events and in public vending.

Tip 5

Encourage families to sign up for the Dish+Dash

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The Dish+Dash is a great way for families to receive, regular reminders of fun and easy ways to improve the health of their families via email. Tips include fun activities, healthy recipes, and reminders about upcoming community events.

Starting on the path toward improving health can be overwhelming for a family. Losing weight, being more active, changing old habits – these things don’t just change overnight. And that’s OK. Help your patients and their families focus on taking small steps each day, and before long, they’ll be on their way to better health.

Sign up for the Dish+Dash here.

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