Omaha's first-ever, official outline for improving health will be unveiled Thursday as part of the city's sixth annual Health Summit, calling on schools, businesses and families to take an active role on the road to improved health.
The new plan from the Douglas County Health Department is called CHIP, the Community Health Improvement Plan made up of four parts: Access to care, behavioral health, obesity and nutrition and violence prevention.
“This effort is really to bring those together to get the most out of them that we can, to really help people who are already working see that their work is important and in some places, stretch our work even a little bit farther to really make us a little bit more healthy,” said Douglas County Health Department Health and Nutrition Services Division Chief Mary Balluff.
Staying healthy around the clock is the theme of the summit. Opportunities to stay fit and eat well are all around us as more companies have workout rooms and cafeterias offering healthy snacks.
We asked WOWT Facebook fans what's keeping them from living healthier? Brandy Ladwig hit the nail on the head with the most common complaint. “Time. Working full time, school full time and a family with a specials needs kid to take care of, I can't just pick up and go nor do I have the time to exercise."
Connie Hagood Lehan said, “When?”
For others, the issue is in the food department. “Figuring out how to eat healthy on a minimal budget," said Shelly Smith. "The cost of fresh fruit and veggies,” added Larry Bell.
The Douglas County Health Department says affordability is one of the more difficult areas to address, but they're working on it. “Some of the things we've done are the healthy neighborhood stores in our low-income neighborhoods,” said Balluff. “They've brought in fresh produce and they really are able to buy it at an economical cost and really offer it to citizens.”
Unlike any population before, children are now masters at sitting and consuming computer screen time. Generations Y and Z, generally considered those born after the 1980s, are plagued by two big problems, stress and obesity, and they want instant solutions to any problem.
Many students in the metro are working hard to eliminate these issues and stereotypes. “Some youth are working on a project to get more healthy choices in their school stores so that you can buy water or apples or that kind of thing, working with their own school administration to do that,” said Balluff. “Other youth are helping us to look at the kinds of bike parking facilities that you might have at school."
To improve community health 24 hours every day, parents will have to play off their kids' ideas and we all need to be held accountable at work, too. Have you ever heard the phrase "a six-pack starts in the kitchen?” We're talking about a better diet to improve our mid-section, but unfortunately the workplace is standing in a lot of people's way.
On Facebook, Christopher Johns told us his biggest obstacle on the road to health is "food day at work when they bring in a ton of unhealthy food.” The community health plan isn't about completely shutting the door on things like donut day completely, but rather encouraging ways to incorporate healthier choices. Next to the donuts, why not place a bowl of fruit? Apples and bananas are cheaper and just as convenient as donuts.
“Are there possibilities for you to walk to or from or even over your lunch hour?” said Balluff. “When you share a meal together, is there at least one healthy choice? Those are all the kinds of easy choices, environmental supports that we all need."