“The No. 1 contributor to your health is wealth,” according to the medical director for the Berrien County Health Department in response to a recent study that ranked Berrien and Cass counties in the bottom third of Michigan counties when it comes to health. This news hit home because my family happens to live in Berrien county, but also because I take exception to the belief that you wealth is a necessary ingredient for good health.
In addition to lifestyle, this study analyzed socioeconomic factors, access to clinical care and the environment, ranking counties on everything from air quality to the number of liquor stores per 10,ooo residents. Berrien County ranked 64th among 82 of Michigan’s 83 counties with respect to socioeconomic factors. The study also revealed that the rate of liquor stores is also higher in these two counties than the state average. Even more upsetting; the access to healthy food in Berrien and Cass counties are lower than the state average. What is being done about this?
Good Health: No Wealth Required
I am not a wealthy person by any means. I’m an average, stay-at-home mom that has been making ends meet since the year I delivered my first child. I know what it’s like to live on one income, and I personally gained weight during an eleven-year period as we struggled to afford groceries for our family. But, I also lost 162 pounds living on that same, single income! I simply made the effort to purchase healthier items and quit buying high-calorie, high-sugar and high-fat unhealthy foods! Simple, right?
Then I made the decision to walk for 22 minutes every day. How much did it cost me to walk? Nothing. There you go… it was something I could do for FREE that contributed to my good health, no wealth required!
“We Can” and So Can You!
In Central Michigan, where the lowest-ranked counties in Michigan are located, they are doing something… they have created a “We Can” initiative to improve health measures, including obesity, inactivity and poor nutrition. Monthly brainstorming sessions involving officials from local health departments, mental health agencies, colleges and elsewhere are taking place, and a working plan is expected to be developed in April, said Mary Kushion, health officer for the Central Michigan District Health Department. I am truly looking forward to their plan.
It’s time for all counties to take (literal) stepsto improve the health of their residents. Remember, it’s FREE!
See Me Offline
And I enjoy sharing this information with anyone who is willing to listen! In fact, I’ll be sharing my story live and in-person in the near future. Please mark your calendars now: Healthy Kids Day on Saturday, April 16 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Benton Harbor – St. Joseph YMCA Family Center. This event is free! You don’t need wealth to improve your health.