New article by PI Board member Howard Pinderhughes on how Adverse Community Experiences affect diet and physical activity
As our understanding of the role of Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACEs, affecting individual health risks and outcomes has grown, we also need to expand our focus to understand the influence of Adverse Community Experiences on health, safety, and equity outcomes. Exposure to Adverse Community Experiences—including violence, discrimination, and poverty—acts as a barrier to community health. In The Interplay of Community Trauma, Diet, and Physical Activity: Solutions for Public Health, published this week by the National Academy of Medicine, Dr. Howard Pinderhughes calls for further analysis of the role of community trauma in shaping diet- and activity-related illnesses and driving health inequities. Dr. Pinderhughes writes:
The pervasive presence of community trauma can become a significant barrier to efforts to improve population health and health equity, including those that address eating- and activity-related diseases. When people don’t feel safe in their communities, they are less likely to walk to the grocery store, use local parks, access public transportation, and let their children play outside. Healthy food retailers and recreation businesses are less likely to invest in communities perceived as unsafe.
Over recent years, public health practitioners have helped shift the focus of chronic disease prevention efforts from changing individual behaviors to changing the systems that influence individuals’ ability to eat well and be active. Historical and present-day discriminatory laws, policies, and practices continue to drive health outcomes and nowhere are gaps more glaring than in communities that have experienced trauma and the resulting injuries and illnesses. Changing these conditions through a focus on norms, organizational practices, and policy is critical to furthering health equity and resilience.
Dr. Pinderhughes concludes:
All people and communities deserve equal opportunities to be healthy and safe, but we know such opportunities aren’t distributed evenly. To improve health outcomes and reduce the disproportionate impact of diet- and activity-related illnesses, it’s essential to facilitate a deeper understanding of the underlying factors—including adverse community experiences—that profoundly and inequitably influence health and health equity outcomes for entire communities.
For these efforts to truly improve health at a community level, we must increase health practitioner and stakeholder awareness of actions that allow communities to heal from community trauma, protect against community trauma, and prevent community trauma in the first place.
Click here to read the full article at the National Academy of Medicine.