Physical Therapy International Service
The Importance of Health Education In The Community
Healthy foods and healthy diets play an essential role in the growth and development of children as well as the overall health of adults. Children are being exposed to high amounts of sugar and sodium, instead of fruits and vegetables. Nutrition deficiency leads to many different health problems in adolescents and a significant number of Americans across the country, one most commonly known as obesity. To address this issue we must advocate the importance of a healthy diet and educate the children, their parents, and other adults to incorporate daily physical activity into their routine.
Children are like sponges, they soak up and retain more information than they receive from their environments. Specifically, children who live in shelters with their families, intake all of the visual, auditory, and learning information they’ve experienced during their stays. Children aren’t given the option to choose between healthy and unhealthy foods. Since homeless shelters don’t have access to fresh food and have limited cooking facilities, a program was created within two homeless shelters in New York that advocates for Cooking, Healthy Eating, Fitness, and Fun (CHEFFs). Developing this kind of programming helps to promote a healthy lifestyle for children in temporary residential environments, such as shelters. The children were encouraged to try new fruits and vegetables and meals with less sugar. They were also introduced and participated in physical activity lessons. Researchers looking further into the program found that after the children learned about healthier food, drink, and exercise options, they showed interest in changing their lifestyle for the better. With the proper education, children are understanding the importance of healthy eating and although these children are not yet old enough to have complete control of their decisions, specifically in a shelter, the CHEFFs program has shown children the importance of healthy eating and living a healthy life overall as they grow into more educated adults.
Stereotypes about the homeless population having no money, no home, and no food are thought to be thin and underweight. This is a misconception. The adult homeless population was found to have high rates of obesity and alongside that, a decrease in socioeconomic status correlated with an increase in obesity in women. This is due to an overconsumption of calories from unhealthy or low-nutrient-dense food because in a lot of areas there is low access or lack thereof to quality, nutritious food. Those with a lower socioeconomic status must resort to consuming cheaper and unhealthy food which has fed into the obesity rate crisis within the homeless population.
It is important to educate and promote healthy diets for both children and adults. This could help alleviate the obesity issue amongst low socioeconomic neighborhoods, the homeless, and those within shelters. Teaching children and educating adults can have a long-lasting impact on their future food choices and lifestyle decisions physically. With the help of our community, we can help provide and promote the proper nutrition for our children. We must come together and advocate for those who can’t advocate for themselves.
Rodriguez, J., Applebaum, J., Stephenson-Hunter, C., Tinio, A., & Shapiro, A. (2013). Cooking, Healthy Eating, Fitness and Fun (CHEFFs): Qualitative Evaluation of a Nutrition Education Program for Children Living at Urban Family Homeless Shelters. American Journal of Public Health, 103(Suppl 2), S361–S367. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2013.301558
Koh, K. A., Hoy, J. S., O’Connell, J. J., & Montgomery, P. (2012). The Hunger–Obesity Paradox: Obesity in the Homeless. Journal of Urban Health, 89(6), 952–964. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11524-012-9708-4