My New Year’s resolution this year was to drop 25 pounds, get into good enough shape to finish the Broad Street Run in May, and get my cholesterol levels back down into a healthy range.
My plan was simple, cut out the junk food, reduce the portion sizes, eat lots of fruit and veggies and run, run, run. This has posed a number of challenges, including getting up early enough four days a week morning to run for at least 30 minutes before my wife and two young girls wake up. That meant getting enough sleep – not so easy I am learning with a six month old who needs attention between 2:30 and 4:00 most nights.
Still, I was doing pretty well until the snow storms made the sidewalks in West Philly where I run with my two dogs nearly impassable. So it’s been a week and a half since I’ve had a good run. Still, I’ve managed to shed about nine pounds since early January.
Another thing I’ve learned is: it’s expensive to eat right, get in shape and lose weight. Low fat yogurt, good fruit and vegitables are not cheap. And that’s just one of the challenges poor people in Philadelphia and other places across the nation face.
Another major challenge that many people in poor neighborhoods face is the lack grocery stores where they can buy healthy food. And dangerous neighborhoods also make it harder to stay active and exercise. These are just a couple areas that contribute to poor health in poor neighborhoods, but it can help explain the most recent report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin’s Population Health Institute that found Philadelphia ranked last in health outcomes and health factors among all 67 counties in Pennsylvania. Camden County in South Jersey was 19th out of 21 counties in New Jersey in terms of health outcomes.
In today’s Inquirer David B. Nash, dean of Thomas Jefferson University’s new School of Population Health notes Philadelphia has “a concentration of all the academic medical centers, of course, but the outcomes are poor because, when you look at a population’s health, the measures are not directly related to health care.”
He added: “We have a disease-based system, not a prevention- and wellness-based health-care system.” Such a system might pay supermarkets to bring fresh produce into poor neighborhoods and reward doctors for preventing illness, not just treating it.