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New Haven Challenged To Lose 375,000 Pounds
by Kendra Baker | Sep 25, 2013 2:18 pm
After about 21 years of being overweight, West River community activist and resident Ann Greene was on her way to becoming “just another familiar African-American female statistic—obese, diabetic, stroke-in-the-making, maybe dead.”
Greene shared her story with over 50 people who gathered at the Beulah Heights First Pentecostal Church on 806 Orchard St. Wednesday morning to learn about and participate in Get Healthy CT‘s new initiative: A challenge to all of New Haven to lose a collective 375,000 pounds in two years.
City Community Services Administrator Althea Marshall Brooks, Jeannette Ickovics of Yale School of Public Health, and Yale-New Haven Hospital hosted the first meeting of the initiative, which is in celebration of New Haven’s 375th anniversary.
Get it? 375 years. 375 pounds.
The initiative aims to steer the New Haven community towards becoming healthier by focusing on more healthful eating, physical activity and support systems.
After guests mingled and helped themselves to free coffee and breakfast, they gathered in the church’s sanctuary to learn more about the health initiative.
Ickovics (pictured above) presented a nationwide, statewide and citywide health overview. Despite New Haven’s numerous health programs and services, chronic diseases like obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes threaten the community, she reported.
The 2012 Community Alliance for Research and Engagement (CARE) survey revealed that people in New Haven’s lowest-resource neighborhoods have poorer health compared to Connecticut and the nation. CARE also found that New Haveners do not meet national recommendations for diet and exercise, which contribute to the city’s high rate of chronic diseases.
In her remarks Wednesday, Greene pointed out the importance of personal and community transformation.
“I think my own transformation is analogous to how, I believe, communities can and need to transform themselves,” said Greene (pictured), who moved to New Haven in 2008 after living in New York for 19 years.
Greene called the fact that she can now walk to downtown New Haven in 20 or 30 minutes a “gift”—a gift that even after five years, she is not tired of.
However, during her strolls downtown, she said she started to notice some bothersome signs.
“I noticed it wasn’t uncommon to see a fairly young adult, who was morbidly obese, traveling in a motorized wheelchair,” said Greene. “And many of the teenage girls I saw had bodies that already showed a lifetime of sedentary living and poor diet.”
In 2009, Greene joined CARE and went all over the city surveying New Haven residents about their mental and physical health, as well as their financial states.
“Some were not at all abashed to share the stories of their drinking, or their smoking or depression—and in fact, they were relieved to share their stories,” said Greene. “As people filled in the narratives of their hard-lived and hard-pressed lives, it confirmed something for me that I believed for a long time but I had never put into words: many of the conditions that we accept as the cost of living—such as alcohol or drug addiction, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, depression—those conditions are inexplicably linked to spiritual sickness.”
Greene said spiritual sickness isn’t individualized—it’s systemic.
“I alone am not hypertensive—my community is hypertensive. I alone am not depressed—my community is depressed. I alone am not unhealthy—my community is unhealthy,” said Green, “which means—at least for me—that the ‘cure’ for all the above can’t be individualized. It must come from widespread awareness, communal effort and mutual support.”
“We need to come together to make [the initiative] work and create a greater impact faster,” said Lyn Salsgiver, vice president for Strategy and Business Planning for Yale New Haven Health System and senior vice president for Planning and Marketing at Bridgeport Hospital.
Salsgiver encouraged guests to sign a Healthy Eating Plan, pledging to increase their physical activity, eat healthier foods, and encourage their families and friends to do the same.
“The first step is committing and the purpose is to get the conversation going,” said Salsgiver, who is responsible for the Community Health Needs Assessment for Yale-New Haven Health System. “To make an impact, we need to take little steps at a time.”
Salsgiver said that people can find resources and guides on healthful foods, recipes, physical activities and active community involvement on a new Get Healthy CT website that launches next week.
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You need to start in the Black Church.Black church culture is out of alignment with some biblical teachings, particularly when it comes to how we eat. Church culture has got us drinking Kool-Aid, eating white bread, fried chicken, large servings of macaroni and cheese and collard greens drenched with salty hog maws (foods that are high in sugar, salt, calories, and carbohydrates that trigger health problems). We’re eating this in the church basement at dinner and at church conventions! Meanwhile, the Bible teaches against gluttony.Black folks must get away from Soul Food.Soul Food means this.
S= FOR SALT
O= FOR OIL
U= FOR UNDERTAKER
L= FOR LARD
F= FOR FAT
O= FOR OIL
D=FOR DEATH if you keep eating this food.
Soul Food is Killing Black People
Heart Attack Cafe
I love it! I only need some friends to assist with the motivation piece. I can stand to lose 80 of those pounds. HhE and Threefifths, are you with me?
We can start with a walk in the morning and meet downtown at the fountain. You name the time. Tomorrow morning works for me. Any takers?