National Public Health Week highlights link between children’s health and neighborhood design

Washington, DC--(HISPANIC PR WIRE)--March 28, 2006--Communities across the nation are becoming less healthy, a dangerous trend that harms children’s health. Children in Latino communities are especially at risk.

“Latino neighborhoods are more likely to lack safe housing, stores that sell fresh foods, primary health care, and safe places for children to play,” said Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association.

These problems exist because of the way communities are designed and they have serious health consequences, especially for children:

-- In urban areas, one in every three Hispanic children is overweight. Lack of sidewalks, safe spaces to play, and access to fresh foods contributes to increases in childhood obesity.

-- In Arizona, three-quarters of all cases of lead poisoning affect Latino children. In communities across the country, children are exposed to toxins at home, at school and outdoors that can cause serious diseases.

-- Many children, especially those living low-income communities, do not have a nearby doctor or pharmacy to provide them with the health care they need.

National Public Health Week 2006, April 3-9, is dedicated to “Designing Healthy Communities, Raising Healthy Kids.” During National Public Health Week, ask yourself five questions to assess the health of your neighborhood:

1. Is my family’s house free of mold, lead and other toxic substances?

2. Is there a safe playground nearby where my children can play?

3. Is there a grocery story in my community that offers fresh meat, fruits and vegetables?

4. Is there a health clinic or pharmacy in my neighborhood?

5. Is the air in my neighborhood clean and safe for my kids to breathe?

Latino communities across the country are making changes to improve their children’s health. For example, in MacArthur Park, one of the poorest neighborhoods in Los Angeles, the community came together to create a free health clinic and new affordable housing. An abandoned mini-mall was transformed into a new charter school that offers health and recreation programs for families in the community.

For more information on improving the health of your children and your community, visit: http://www.nphw.org.

The American Public Health Association (http://www.apha.org) is the oldest and largest organization of public health professionals in the world.

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