Public Health Week Promotes Healthy Communities And Healthy Kids

Contact: T.J. Bucholz (517) 241-2112
Agency: Community Health

April 4, 2006

As part of National Public Health Week, the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) is promoting awareness of a different public health issue each day this week. Access To Healthy Food Day highlights the importance of having healthy food available and affordable as a critical solution toward building healthier communities and raising healthier children.

The research base supporting an increased fruit and vegetable intake for improved health status grows daily. The problem is that only 20 percent of adults are eating more than 5, ½ cup servings per day – an amount recommended for moderately active two and three year olds. High fruit and vegetable intakes are associated with a lower risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and certain cancers; plus improvement of blood pressure and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol.

“A healthy food environment is one where access to food options is promoted and supported at home, in schools, in the workplace, and throughout the community,” said Janet Olszewski, MDCH Director. “An increase in fruit and vegetable intake has the long-term potential to slow the skyrocketing of health care costs.”

Schools and worksites can provide a healthy food environment by providing a place to eat that is both comfortable and pleasant and by offering healthy food options in cafeterias, vending machines, at meetings, and at special events.

The community at large can support healthy eating by providing healthy food choices at a reasonable price at restaurants, grocery stores, and convenience stores; by offering additional access to healthy foods (such as fruits and vegetables); by providing positive messages about healthy food choices; and by offering educational opportunities and support for improving eating habits.

“A common misperception is that fruits and vegetables are expensive,” said Dr. Kimberlydawn Wisdom, Michigan Surgeon General. “However, a person can consume an average of seven servings of fruits and vegetables per day for just 64 cents.”

For more information on access to healthy food and healthy food environments, please visit www.mihealthtools.org or contact the MDCH Cardiovascular Health, Nutrition and Physical Activity Section at (517) 335-8766.

National Public Health Week 2006 focuses on empowering Americans to assess the status of the built environment and children’s health in their communities. To learn more about Public Health Week and events taking place across the state this week, visit www.apha.org/nphw.