The places where we live, work and play affect our health. Here’s the truth: neighborhoods with sidewalks or bike trails offer more opportunities for exercise and make it easier for people to maintain a healthy weight. They also help reduce the risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Dr. Esteban López, San Antonio regional president for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX), discussed these insights on a panel at a recent health summit hosted by the National Council of La Raza (NCLR). Dr. López, along with other health experts, community leaders and government officials believe that Texas is on the right track, but there is still LOTS of room for improvement.
Speakers shared ideas and best practices such as helping the newly insured find medical care, working with grocery stores to provide fresh fruits and vegetables as well as advocating for healthier options in housing and schools.
“The places where we live affect our quality of life—particularly our mental and physical health. A neighborhood that has no sidewalks or parks, or that has poor air quality, for example, discourages physical activity and can damage health. We must empower communities to address barriers to good health so more people can exercise, eat right and get the medical care they need,” said Delia Pompa, Senior Vice President, Programs, NCLR.
San Antonio, which is nearly two-thirds Latino, is located in Bexar County, where CDC data show that 65 percent of the adults are overweight or obese. BCBSTX has been actively engaged in several collaborative efforts to address these trends including membership in the San Antonio Mayor’s Fitness Council, sponsoring San Antonio Sport Fit Family Challenge and making a significant investment in the HEB Body Adventure at the Witte Museum. There’s still a lot to do, but the community is already seeing benefits. In just 2 short years since 2010, average obesity rates in San Antonio and Bexar County dropped a whopping 6.6 percent!
“We commend the work of our colleagues here in San Antonio for helping residents become healthier and more active. Change is hard, but communities that create opportunities to engage people in good nutrition and regular exercise are going to see better health outcomes. Through the NCLR Health Summit, we were able to spotlight real-world examples of community advocacy that have changed people’s lives for the better,” said Pompa.
BCBSTX is thrilled to partner with NCLR and show the Latino community our commitment to their health and wellness! As media coverage and attention on the Latino population continues to grow, we are becoming more aware that our continued support and help in thriving for the Latino community is becoming more and more vital to the success of our great nation as a united front! We are more aware than ever of the implications, opportunities and challenges this merging of cultures brings to our country: since 1980, the percentage of Americans who claim Latino / Hispanic heritage has grown a total of 11 percent. By 2040, it is projected that Latinos will constitute about 24 TOTAL percent of the U.S. population (that’s almost 1 in 4 Americans).
Want to know more? Want to help out? Visit the NCLR website to learn more about Latino health and nutrition and access the Health Summit agenda and the newly released “NCLR 2015 Profiles of Latino Health” series.
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