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New Haven Challenged to Lose 375,000 Pounds

New Haven Challenged to Lose 375,000 Pounds

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Published by Kendra Baker
After about 21 years of being overweight, West River community activist and resident Ann Greene was on her way to becoming "just another familiar African-American female statistic—obese, diabetic, stroke-in-the-making, maybe dead."
After about 21 years of being overweight, West River community activist and resident Ann Greene was on her way to becoming "just another familiar African-American female statistic—obese, diabetic, stroke-in-the-making, maybe dead."

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Published by: Kendra Baker on Nov 28, 2013
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BY
Kendra Baker 
 | SEP 25, 2013 2:18 PM
 After about 21 years of being overweight, West River community activist and resident Ann Greene wason her way to becoming “just another familiar African-American female statistic—obese, diabetic,stroke-in-the-making, maybe dead.”Greene shared her story with over 50 people who gathered at the Beulah Heights First PentecostalChurch on 806 Orchard St. Wednesday morning to learn about and participate in Get Healthy CTsnew initiative: A challenge to all of New Haven to lose a collective 375,000 pounds in two years.City Community Services Administrator Althea Marshall Brooks, Jeannette Ickovics of Yale School of Public Health, and Yale-New Haven Hospital hosted the first meeting of the initiative, which is incelebration of New Haven’s 375th anniversary.Get it? 375 years. 375 pounds.The initiative aims to steer the New Haven community towards becoming healthier by focusing onmore healthful eating, physical activity and support systems. After guests mingled and helped themselves to free coffee and breakfast, they gathered in thechurch’s sanctuary to learn more about the health initiative.Ickovics (pictured above) presented a nationwide, statewide and citywide health overview. DespiteNew Haven’s numerous health programs and services, chronic diseases like obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes threaten the community, she reported.The 2012 Community Alliance for Research and Engagement (CARE) survey revealed that people inNew Haven’s lowest-resource neighborhoods have poorer health compared to Connecticut and thenation. CARE also found that New Haveners do not meet national recommendations for diet andexercise, which contribute to the city’s high rate of chronic diseases.In her remarks Wednesday, Greene pointed out the importance of personal and communitytransformation.
New Haven Challenged To Lose 375,000 Pounds
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“I think my own transformation is analogous to how,I believe, communities can and need to transformthemselves,” said Greene (pictured), who moved toNew Haven in 2008 after living in New York for 19years.Greene called the fact that she can now walk todowntown New Haven in 20 or 30 minutes a “gift”—a gift that even after five years, she is not tired of.However, during her strolls downtown, she saidshe started to notice some bothersome signs.“I noticed it wasn’t uncommon to see a fairly youngadult, who was morbidly obese, traveling in amotorized wheelchair,” said Greene. “And many of the teenage girls I saw had bodies that alreadyshowed a lifetime of sedentary living and poor diet.”In 2009, Greene joined CARE and went all over the city surveying New Haven residents about their mental and physical health, as well as their financial states.“Some were not at all abashed to share the stories of their drinking, or their smoking or depression—and in fact, they were relieved to share their stories,” said Greene. “As people filled in the narratives of their hard-lived and hard-pressed lives, it confirmed something for me that I believed for a long timebut I had never put into words: many of the conditions that we accept as the cost of living—such asalcohol or drug addiction, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, depression—those conditions areinexplicably linked to spiritual sickness.”Greene said spiritual sickness isn’t individualized—it’s systemic.“I alone am not hypertensive—my community is hypertensive. I alone am not depressed—mycommunity is depressed. I alone am not unhealthy—my community is unhealthy,” said Green, “whichmeans—at least for me—that the ‘cure’ for all the above can’t be individualized. It must come fromwidespread awareness, communal effort and mutual support.”“We need to come together to make [the initiative] work and create a greater impact faster,” said LynSalsgiver, vice president for Strategy and Business Planning for Yale New Haven Health System andsenior vice president for Planning and Marketing at Bridgeport Hospital.Salsgiver encouraged guests to sign a Healthy Eating Plan, pledging to increase their physical activity,eat healthier foods, and encourage their families and friends to do the same.“The first step is committing and the purpose is to get the conversation going,” said Salsgiver, who isresponsible for the Community Health Needs Assessment for Yale-New Haven Health System. “Tomake an impact, we need to take little steps at a time.”Salsgiver said that people can find resources and guides on healthful foods, recipes, physicalactivities and active community involvement on a new Get Healthy CT website that launches nextweek.
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Salsgiver encouraged guests to sign a Health Eating Plan
Tags: obesity, Community Alliance for Research and Engagement, Get Healthy CT
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