The path to good nutrition, health and wellness isn't always as simple as eating more fruits and vegetables or deciding to take the stairs instead of the elevator. For many people, factors like cost, environment, convenience and education, often referred to as social determinants of health, impact their ability to live a healthy life. For example, food deserts (geographic areas where access to affordable, healthy food is restricted or nonexistent, often due to the absence of grocery stores within convenient travelling distance) prevent many from accessing wholesome foods. And even when nutritious food is plentiful, families may lack the knowledge and financial resources to make the right choices. This issue is on the minds of many families in the Lone Star state.
According to America's Health Rankings, Texas ranks 40th in the nation in obesity. To help build healthier communities in Texas, United Health Foundation (UHF) has partnered with local programs using innovative methods to increase access to healthy foods and nutrition education and encourage increased physical activity in underserved communities in Houston. These initiatives are designed to provide residents with the tools they need to live a healthier, more active life.
To improve access to fresh, healthy food in underserved communities UHF has partnered with Recipe for Success and the Hope Farmer program. This initiative will train veteran entrepreneurs to manage a 7-acre plot of land with the aim of generating 106,000 pounds of produce annually for families through on-site and citywide markets.
And, because the key to a healthy lifestyle isn't only based on the food we eat, UHF has partnered with the University of Houston to implement an obesity prevention and intervention program in the Third Ward and East End neighborhoods in Houston. This new program is designed to bring education and treatment to the neighborhoods rather than asking residents to go to a clinic or class outside their neighborhood.
What we eat is deeply rooted in our culture, customs and way of life. These social determinants of health have a profound impact on people's access to affordable, healthy foods. Through its partnerships in Houston, UHF is helping build a healthier Houston.
To learn more about, UHF's efforts to help people live healthier lives in other communities click here.