29 June 2011: CCC resources for healthier lifestyles

CCC resources for healthier lifestyles

When attending the bi-monthly meeting of the Clear Creek Health Advisory Committee at the encouragement of Commissioner Joan Drury, I was impressed by the eagerness of the dozen or so health leaders at the table, from nurses and maternal/child program coordinators to Emergency Medical Services and the Loaves and Fishes food bank, to help create a healthy community.

Joan told me it’s not unusual that 25 or more join in on the discussion.

“It’s such a great group of people that take personal time to attend and share their expertise,” she said. “The range is made up mainly of health professionals like the reps from Jefferson Center for Mental Health, Mt. Evans Hospice and Home Health Care, and a pediatric dentist from Evergreen.”

Never have needed to call upon public services for assistance but being one who understands my fortune is not universal, I was both pleased and intrigued. The ugly truth is that financial and economic circumstances impact people’s ability to access health care. Cultural and ego interfere as well. So, as a caring, compassionate community, it’s important we, as the Founders say in the Preamble, “promote the general welfare.”

Reflecting upon my experience, however, also caused me to think about how with healthy practices, we could lessen the need for some services and the cost for health care overall.

Let’s face it face, right now we’re an unhealthy society. Overweight and indolent when it comes to exercise, we’re a porky embarrassment compared to our ancestors and the rest of the world.

Heart disease is our number one killer. Obesity, the subject of next week’s column, is an epidemic. Perhaps the worst part is that the sins of the parents are being visited upon their children. A recently released study shows that plump babies tend to grow up to be plump adults. We’re raising America’s future flag-bearers to be Wimpys: “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.”

Because of a mindset: Our poor eating and exercise practices are matters of choice that have become habit.

Growing a healthy sustainable community becomes the responsibility of every member, but to get there, education is the key and removal of excuses crucial.

Poor health practices begin with what we consume. Garbage in, but in this case, not out.

The New England Journal of Medicine, for example, just published a 20-plus-year study by the Harvard School of Public Health, concluding different body types handle foods differently. However, the study identifies certain foods— potatoes, no matter how you fry, bake, or mash them—having universal negative effect upon weight.

The second half of the equation deals with movement. I often heard parents express frustration over their children spending so much time playing video games, which led me to wonder about the number of remote controls in their homes and how often they walk, run, swim, bike, or ski with their children.

I asked Linda Trenbeath, Health Educator and PIO of Clear Creek Public Health and Environment, about this afterwards.

“The number of children living in poverty has increased,” she said. “Children in our county are at greater risk for obesity if they are poor, if physical exercise during the school day has been cut, and if school lunch programs are lacking in resources.

“It’s estimated that both children and adults spend 2 to 4 hours a day with their eyes on a screen. Our advice is to unplug from that cell phone, computer, TV or other device and move your body for better health.”

Ironically, the amazing thing is healthy living need not be a chore, but fun.

Creating healthy meals is a great start. A no-fee hands-on, six-week cooking class beginning July 12 from 11:30 to 1:30 will take place at St. Paul’s Parish Hall in Idaho Springs. Not only will participants learn to prepare healthy meals and how to stretch limited dollars, they get to take home free groceries to test their skills in their kitchens.

Call Linda at 303-679-2386 by July 8 to pre-register (a must).

The Clear Creek County Health Advisory Committee, which meets every other month on Tuesdays from 5:00 to 7:00, fulfills at least two roles: crisis support and education about moving towards healthy life practices.

Everyone is welcome to participate as a visitor or regular member. Call Aaron Kissler at 303-679-2387.

“I always come away from a meeting with new information to pass on and more awareness of just how much is being done in this county to help and assist our residents,” Commissioner Joan told me. “We haven’t turned over every stone yet, but we are well on our way.”

Indeed, it’s about using that gray mass between our ears that makes up 2 percent of our weight but ought to consume 20 percent of our calorie. Come to think about it…

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