Andrea Ayala

Andrea Ayala

In the last month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released the latest set of public health objectives and goals, known as “Healthy People 2030.”

This program is dedicated to assessing areas of concern in public health across the United States and creating objectives and goals that can be met within the next 10 years, then putting plans into action. One particular section of this program focuses on aspects of nutrition and healthy eating within the community. The overarching goal for the next decade is to “improve health by promoting healthy eating and making nutritious foods available.” This goal focuses on assisting the community in eating the recommended amounts of each food group through education and increased access in hopes to help reduce risk of some chronic diseases and improve overall health.

An overwhelming number of children and adults in the U.S. do not eat a healthy diet for numerous reasons. Common reasons include a lack of access to nutritious foods, financial struggles or a lack of knowledge preventing individuals from selecting healthy options.

Many of the nutrition objectives in Healthy People 2030 aim to reduce food insecurity, increase accessibility to nutritious foods, and improve nutrition education in schools to promote healthier choices. Additionally, some objectives are directed toward the adult population and promote the prevention of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

Creating objectives is only one part of the success of public health goals. The next step is asking, “How are we going to achieve these goals?” Action plans are put in place to make these objectives achievable within the 10-year time frame. These plans include public interventions focused on assisting everyone in selecting healthy foods to reduce food insecurity and hunger while improving health.

Community health classes are offered at reduced or no cost that can be disease-specific or educational for disease prevention. Similar programs could be implemented into the public education system to promote healthy behaviors in children and adolescents. There are also programs aimed at increasing participation of students in the National School Breakfast and Lunch programs to promote healthy meals to fuel growing minds while decreasing non-nutritive food options.

People of all ages are encouraged to stay up to date with the Healthy People Program and seek community education or resources that are available for all ages. Everyone should strive to consume well-balanced meals that can provide daily nutrients needs to fuel healthy bodies.

Andrea Ayala is a dietitian with DeTar Healthcare System.

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