[Guest blog by MPHA Executive Director Valerie Bassett to introduce their Act FRESH (FResh Environments Support Health campaign, kicking off Monday]
Massachusetts spends close to $2 billion a year on obesity-related medical costs, and loses another $17 billion annually on expenses tied to lost productivity due to diet-related illness. The design of our communities and built environments exacerbate the problem. The easy availability of unhealthy food as compared with healthy offerings; the lack of safe spaces in which to be physically active; and radically sedentary lifestyles are all key drivers of this crisis.
Although we created this problem over time, we can turn it around.
On Monday (1:00 pm in State House room 222; flyer (pdf)), some new faces will be at the State House to call on the state to go further in making all communities healthier. Local groups like Groundwork Lawrence, Voices for a Healthy South Coast, Nuestras Raices of Holyoke and Fun n’FITchburg, are part of the new Act FRESH campaign (fact sheet (pdf)), led by the Massachusetts Public Health Association. They’ll be joined by Dr. Howard Koh, Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Massachusetts EOHHS Secretary JudyAnn Bigby to introduce an agenda to end high rates of obesity, asthma, heart disease, depression, and inequities among our communities:
- Pass the Comprehensive Land Use Reform and Partnership Act, sponsored by Sen. Jamie Eldridge.
- Pass Physical Education Legislation, sponsored by Sen. Thomas McGee.
- Use Economic Development Resources to improve access to healthy food stores.
- Implement state and federal legislation on school nutrition – to make the food in our schools the best it can be.
These are four important steps to bring health back to all communities. A report, available Monday, on the MPHA campaign website “Priorities for Healthy Places” details these proposals, along with more about why this is critical now.
Join us and endorse the campaign (use this form) to add your voice.
The Act FRESH Leadership Team includes: American Academy of Pediatrics – MA Chapter; American Heart/Stroke Association; BOLD Teens/Codman Square Neighborhood Council (Dorchester); The Boston Public Health Commission; Fun n’ FITchburg; Groundwork Lawrence; Healthy Weight Task Force-Greater Lowell Health Alliance; The LivableStreets Alliance; Live Well Springfield; The MA Association of Health Boards; The MA Public Health Association; Nuestras Raíces (Holyoke); The Southeast Center for Healthy Communities; Voices for a Healthy Southcoast; and Worcester Food & Active Living Policy Council