It’s no news that public health departments and agencies are struggling with the growing burden of public health in spite of disappearing funds. And we’ve alluded to the need for nutrition to be at the forefront of the public health conversation. But what priorities currently exist around diet and nutrition for the overall health of a community?
In 2010 the CDC researched and released a list of winnable health battles, designed to identify public health challenges that address the leading causes of death and disability in the U.S. These included…
• Healthcare acquired infections
• Reducing new HIV/AIDS infections
• Prevention of motor vehicle injures
• Obesity, nutrition, physical activity, and food safety
• Teen pregnancy
Across the country, we see that the concerns of public health departments parallel similar trends. According to the Connecticut Department of Public Health, the first six health priorities for the state include tobacco use, occupational injury, breast/cervical/colorectal cancer screening, hypertension, diabetes, and diet/high cholesterol.
We’re seeing the same trend among other health departments; an emphasis on controlling the spread of infectious diseases and treatment of chronic health conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension.
And when it comes to nutrition, the primary groups of emphasis are infants & children, seniors and low income groups, which are identified as vulnerable populations by the American Public Health Association. However, we see a much broader spectrum of nutrition needs across a community. Primarily because of the important role that nutrition plays in the majority of issues identified as challenges to public health. We believe the nutrition needs for public health include:
• Adult & childhood obesity
• Nutrition related chronic diseases
• Mom & child nutrition
• Senior nutrition
• Healthy economy (employees & visitors)
• Underserved (food deserts & public assistance)
Starting with these areas of nutrition concern, an entire community can benefit from access to nutrition information. And it is this type of information that can facilitate true transformation of the dietary well-being of a community.