Building Healthier Communities

June 28, 2021 Joe Brady

We all have an interest in living in a healthier world. When it comes to living a long and healthy life medical science is important but healthy communities are crucial. We take our cues from the people around us, from the businesses we frequent to the activities that we enjoy to our families and friends all play a role in influencing our behavior, for better or for worse. Promoting healthy living in the community helps prevent chronic diseases and brings the greatest health benefits to the greatest number of people in need. It also helps to reduce health gaps caused by differences in race and ethnicity, location, social status, income, and other factors that can affect health.

Chronic Diseases: like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer—are leading causes of death and disability in the United States.

  • Half of all adults in the United States have a chronic disease.
  • 1 in 3 Americans has high blood pressure.
  • 2 million heart attacks and strokes occur each year.
  • 7 out of 10 deaths among Americans are caused by chronic disease.
  • For every $1 spent on health care, 75 cents is spent on chronic disease and factors that increase their risk.
  • Chronic diseases and their risk factors affect some racial and ethnic groups more than others. For example, non-Hispanic blacks have the highest rates of obesity and are more likely than whites to have heart disease.

The scientific evidence is strong for the effectiveness of community-wide health promotion campaigns. Communities and health promotion partnerships can create an environment that supports the physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being of everyone in the community. However community-wide campaigns cannot be short-term interventions if they are to change the knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors of the intended audiences.  Long-term interventions also require ongoing social marketing knowledge and greater resources to achieve sustainable changes in major health risk factors. Individuals and organizations that promote healthy lifestyles need to realize that it takes time to affect ingrained social trends.

As health care costs continue to skyrocket, the need for new approaches to preventive medicine increases. One possible strategy is to make greater use of community-based health promotion programs and resource guides that link patients, providers, and community-based opportunities for healthy lifestyle participation.  Finding ways to create more effective community-based physical activity and health promotion programs has the potential to create enormous savings in health care costs.

For more information and to watch some cool CDC and Ted talk videos on this subject

Road Map to a Healthier Community Ted talk  

Culture is Prevention Ted Talk