Chicago is densely populated with a vast array of different neighborhoods. The heavily populated urban area tends to have numerous public health concerns, one of them being obesity in younger kids. Obesity is based on biology and genetics, but is also impacted by family, surrounding community, and society in general. Taking a look at elementary school obesity rate, the Chicago Public Schools estimate the total population to be about 88% from low-income communities, of that about 29% hit the obesity mark. From this we can see a correlation from low-income families to obesity. Obesity can be prevented in a variety of ways; one however, may be more prevalent in these low-income communities. Most of these areas are what we call food deserts, where residents simply don’t have access to healthy, good quality foods. Obesity has a direct relationship to diabetes. In Chicago, the death rate from diabetes in food deserts is twice the amount of areas with access to fresh food.
In a small conversation with a student here at UIC, she stated, “My family lives in a food desert where the only place to get food within a mile radius is Walmart”. Many times the food traveling into super markets such as this, have been damaged, rotted, or compromised in transit to a degree.
One minor yet simple solution would be to implement food gardens in these low-income neighborhoods, where kids and their families would be able to freely pick from the garden any fresh foods, learn to prepare meals, and be involved with the community effort to upkeep the garden. There are numerous foundations in the Chicago land area that would support the startup of such an organization. Allowing residents and their children this food security could decrease the obesity rate and have other major beneficial impacts on the children’s well being.
Brown, Kate H., and Andrew L. Jameton. “Public Health Implications of Urban Agriculture.” Journal of Public Health Policy 21.1 (2000): 21-25. Web.
Bechara Choucair, and Barbara Byrd-Bennett. “City of ChicagoOverweight and Obesity among Chicago Public Schools Students, 2010-11.” City of Chicago. Feb. 2013. Web. 17 Feb. 2016.
“Reconnecting Communities with Healthy Food Options.” LaSalle Bank, Mari Gallagher Research and Consulting Group, June 2014. Web.
Tracey Farrigan, and Karen Hamrick. “Access to Affordable and Nutritious Food: Measuring and Understanding Food Deserts and Their Consequences.” Comp. Vince Brenemen. United States Department of Agriculture (2009). Web. 17 Feb. 2016.