Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Striking Off On My Own

As a Rhode Island resident, a career woman, a wife and mother of two children, I am constantly struggling to maintain a wholesome lifestyle. Time pressures, financial pressures, savvy marketing campaigns and probably a little bit of ignorance are the challenges that I, and so many of my peers face each day. Healthy living is an elusive goal that I try to achieve by any means possible – exercise programs, diet programs, internet research, word of mouth…

While there is a mini revolution trying to gain the attention of the American public, it is not yet strong enough to eradicate the years of bad living that so many of us have come to unconsciously. Television shows and movies like “Super Size Me,” and “Honey, We’re Killing the Kids,” serve as springboards for debate and conversation. Campaigns like Go Red for Women by the American Heart Association increase awareness and spread information. Friendly competitions and contests like Glaceau Vitamin Water’s Free Lunch Money educate our teens to the dangers of poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle. Backpack Clubs that are springing up throughout the nation strive to provide basic nourishment to the poorest children and families. All of these are honorable efforts, worthy of our support and admiration but still, we must do more.

I believe that the average citizen does possess the desire to improve his or her health, get fit, lose weight, and learn healthy eating habits. However, the perceived cost of this healthy lifestyle – in time, effort and dollars – causes most people to continue learned behaviors that have long term negative effects. We know that these individual actions impact our community as a whole as we continue to bear increased medical costs and business costs in employee absences.

We have the ability to reach every Rhode Islander. I see untapped avenues for spreading the word and increasing the public’s awareness and participation in this fight. I recently learned that there are more than 100 different agencies in this small state that have programs or efforts aimed at improving health and defeating obesity and its resulting diseases. Collaboratively, we can touch every person, young and old, big and small to provide the education, resources and tools necessary to, literally, save our lives.

Kirsten DiChiappari
Independent Consultant


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