Saturday, September 22, 2012

Bridging the gaps: Vision for Philadelphia

I went to my first Bridging the Gaps seminar. Dr. Donald Schwarz, the Health Commissioner and Deputy Mayor for Health and Opportunity for Philadelphia, gave a talk titled A Vision for the City. Some interesting points that tied back to our Health Promotions class:

- It takes a long time to change your body imagery. If you grow up around a vastly overweight population, it will take a long time for you to realize that not being overweight is normal.

- We need systematic changes that make it easy for people to make healthy choices. Providing the right environment for healthy decisions includes fluoridating water supply, building pedestrian-friendly sidewalks and giving easy access to fresh foods (healthy snack vending machines).

philArticle: 31% of families often “don’t have enough money to buy food they need”

One of the diagnostic questions for caries risk is “food insecurity”. If you are filling up with cheap instant options, you are not only missing necessary nutrients but also exposing your teeth to lots of sugar in form of high fructose corn syrup. Potato chips are one of the worst foods for your teeth since they get stuck around your nooks and crannies.

In Philadelphia, we have the Philly Food Bucks program where SNAP (Philadelphia’s version of food stamps) recipients get an extra $2 per $5 spent at farmers’ markets. We also have Healthy Corner Store Initiatives to improve access to fresh fruits and vegetables in low-income neighborhoods. This initiative provides incentives for grocery stores to carry and market fresh products.

Also: how do we not feel guilty eating a nice meal or even grabbing a latte knowing people are hungry and starving around us? Especially in Philadelphia I see people asking for food all the time.

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