By Shaun Gray
Last week during a Congressional Briefing sponsored by Senator Tom Harkin, the Prevention Institute released a new paper titled “Addressing the Intersection: Preventing Violence and Promoting Healthy Eating and Active Living.” Until now, little research has been conducted on the impact of community violence on healthy eating and activity. Community members don’t walk to the grocery store if it means the risk of getting robbed on the way. They’d rather run to the corner store in order to purchase what food is available. Youth fail to play outside because of the gang members that hang out at their local park, so youth are encouraged to stay indoors where it’s safe. Businesses don’t want to open their shops in a community if they know the crime rate is high, so they take the grocery store to a community where they know their shoppers will be safe.
Violence creates barriers in communities. Without political will, violence will continue to be a factor in obesity - limiting community access to healthy food, and preventing families from eating healthy and being active. By creating safe places, promoting community development and fostering social cohesion, the Prevention Institute is fostering violence prevention for better public health. The Afterschool Alliance serves with the Prevention Institute on STRYVE, or Striving To Reduce Youth Violence Everywhere, a national initiative led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to prevent youth violence before it starts.