Turning the Tables on Systemic Injustices: How Health in All Policies Can Promote Equity

If we knew the secret to getting everyone at the table and on the same page toward the realization of a goal, we’d already be well on our way to the livable, healthy, and equitable communities many of us dream of. In reality, the dynamics of human social relationships and the transactions they impact are seldom easy or clear-cut. And even once we’ve brought everyone to the table, how do we then turn the tables on the issue we seek to address?

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Topeka Bike Share Health Impact Assessment

Topeka Bike Share HIA Report 2015

Photo by Megan Rogers.

Bike share programs provide bicycles to the public for short-use trips through a paid membership or pay-as-you-go fee structure, but how do such programs impact community health, if at all?

A Health Impact Assessment was undertaken for the Topeka Bike Share program between Dec. 2014 and Dec. 2015. The final report is now available and can be downloaded by clicking the link below.

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What’s for Lunch? Choice and Health in the Modern Work Environment

Cake in the Break Room

Photo by WWStarBuckD

The thing about food is that we all eat. It’s not like smoking or alcohol, substances that can be quit cold turkey. Quitting food isn’t an option and unlike smoking that has laws governing where people can light up, food is everywhere. From the fast food restaurant on the corner to the cheap vending machine and the company break room exploding with cake at every birthday, it has become increasingly difficult to stay healthy in the modern work environment. So what tactics can employees take to avoid overindulging in the guilty stuff, while still satisfying the urge to snack?

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The Wasteful Business of Thanksgiving: Taking a Page from The Hunger Games

Last Thursday I went to the premiere of Catching Fire, the second story in the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. In it, our two victors from coal-mining District 12, Katniss and Peeta, dine at the cosmopolitan Captiol at the end of their victory tour. Food is stacked high on every table and, already full from trying one too many treats, Katniss and Peeta are offered the Capitol fix – a  little cocktail intended to “make you sick” so you can keep on eating. Katniss and Peeta, being from a district where hunger runs rampant, decline.

This story (and the Capitol in general) offers a great analogy for the general excess indulged in by wealthier nations on a year-round basis but which becomes exaggerated during the holiday season. It’s easy to become caught up in the festivities surrounding Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other winter holiday traditions, and to overdue it. It turns out that more is at stake than just a few wasted turkey bits when we throw out uneaten leftovers after the holidays. Continue reading

What Boomers Want

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Over the next few decades 50% of the U.S. population will be 60 years of age or older. As Dr. Dennis Domer explains it, we will have a gerontocracy run mostly by women. But we’d be mistaken if we think the boomers are going to move quietly into nursing homes. Domer and the team he works with have something different in mind. Continue reading

Is Hospital Food Putting People in the Hospital?

Heart Attack Grill

Photo by Gina Sowell. (This is not actually in a hospital).

Business as Usual

At least two-thirds of the U.S. adult population is either overweight or obese and that number is expected to increase to 75% by 2015. Childhood obesity is also widespread, afflicting 17% of U.S. children under the age of 18 (Wang and Beydoun, 2007). While many factors can contribute to the development of obesity, perhaps one of the biggest is diet. With food playing such a large role in the obesity epidemic and its related diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, strokes, and certain cancers, should it not follow that our centers of healthcare provide the healthiest food possible for healing? Is it possible that the very institutions trusted with making us healthy might, in fact, be putting us in the hospital?

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Aging in the Urban Built Environment

Elderly woman crossing city intersection.

Photo by Pietroizzo.

Baby boomers are starting to retire and with that comes the  challenge of supporting their needs. When most of us think of our parents or grandparents aging, I’m guessing we picture them in a  suburban home or, eventually perhaps, a care facility just down the road. What if, like many young people today migrating to cities, our elders instead choose to see their retirement years out in an urban center? Continue reading