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Eat Healthful Food...If You Can Find It

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, May 21, 2012

And these two reports should give pause to advocates of "skin-in-the game" punitive financial measures such as higher health insurance premiums for overweight or obese people. It's not that simple.

 

Let's be clear: Lack of access to fresh produce does not give anyone license to simply forfeit responsibility to maintain his or her health. It is imperative that we find the incentives that make people adopt healthier lifestyles. However, it is also unfair to hold everyone to the same weight measure or dietary standard when it is not so readily available to all.

It is legitimate to say that if a person doesn't take the initiative for his own health, nobody else will. Action is needed, but it shouldn't be a one-size-fits-all strategy that penalizes the people who can least afford it.   

Businesses establishing a wellness program should take the time to tour neighborhoods where their lower-wage employees live to better understand the advantages and challenges they may face in their home environments.

It's not just about access to healthy food. We can advocate fitness measures and exercise programs, but does that take into account neighborhoods with no sidewalks or parks, or inadequate street lighting, or higher crime rates? Does the supervisor who devises an exercise plan while sitting at a desk all day understand that some workers might be standing on their feet for eight hours a day or longer and are therefore less enthusiastic about that after-work Zumba class?

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1 comments on "Eat Healthful Food...If You Can Find It"


Patricia (5/25/2012 at 2:32 PM)
Eating better and regular exercise requires ongoing education for staff about these issues, and time. It takes time to exercise. Where in the workday have you allowed for your staff to have time for exercise? Is there a safe place for them to walk? Does your policy even allow your staff to leave the building? Nurses are allowed to leave a department for lunch, but facilities often have policies that prevent nurses from leaving the building. Thus, going for a walk is out of the question. If we want people to be healthier, we need to look at the work environment. Is it stressful? Why? What can you do to make it a healthier place to work?