Time to start eating healthier

First Posted: 2/5/2015

We all know and realize that eating healthy takes some work. Many times the easy choice is to grab a convenience meal or run through the drive-thru after a busy day. The easy choice is to not spend time to cook a meal. But, that easy choice is killing us.

Almost 70 percent of Allen County adults and nearly 40 percent of our third-graders are overweight. Nearly 65 percent of adults say they haven’t eaten a single non-potato vegetable in the past week. And as shocking as those numbers are, they are less so when you see that 66 percent of Allen County restaurants are classified as fast-food. That compares to 55 percent statewide and a national benchmark of 27 percent.

Our desire and need is to change the thinking of many residents in Allen County. Our goal is to make healthy choices easy to make. This seems like and at times is a very daunting task, but one that desperately needs to happen as we look at obesity trends and data concerning the number of residents that are meeting the recommendations for fruit and vegetable intake on a daily basis. Activate Allen County and many other community organizations desire to make a positive impact on the health and wellness of Allen County residents, and programs have been started to do just this.

One way to bridge the gap is to create an atmosphere where healthy options are just as easy to obtain as unhealthy options. This is happening throughout Allen County.

With Activate Allen County’s Healthy Happens Here program, fresh produce and healthy snacks are being promoted in small stores within the county. These are neighborhood stores that many students, parents and community members frequent to pick up a few quick items, sometimes on a daily basis. Many of these stores do not have fresh produce available, but do sell many snacks and foods that are highly processed and carry very minimal nutritional value.

Healthy Happens Here is a way to work with store owners to stock fresh produce in their stores. It is also a way to make healthy options more visible and attractive to customers with colorful signage, labels and recipes to go with items.

These healthier options include low-fat dairy, whole grain products, canned and frozen fruits and vegetables and better-for-you snack options. Most importantly, this program serves as a way to educate the community and neighborhood about why a nutritious diet is so important for them and their families.

For some residents, their access to fresh fruits and vegetables is extremely limited for a number of reasons, so having this service within small community stores allows them to have produce they otherwise would not be consuming. Research has shown that residents in neighborhoods with small stores that do offer produce have overall better diets than those that do not.

We are very pleased that Corner Grocery at 500 N. Elizabeth St. has agreed to join our program.

Along with Health Partners of Western Ohio, we are hosting a free event for the community from noon to 3 p.m. Friday at the Corner Grocery. This is a great way to learn more about Healthy Happens Here and see the new produce and healthy snack display inside Corner Grocery. We will also have blood pressure screenings, health education information, food and giveaways during this time. Please plan to join us for this free kick-off celebration.

We would love to see other stores joining Healthy Happens Her. If you are interested in learning more about the program or have a desire to join, please contact Activate Allen County at 419-221-5035.

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