The Aug. 30 Gazette article correctly pointed out that “obesity continues to be a problem for Iowans.” What the article overlooked was that the obesity epidemic correlates strongly with the income of Iowans.
Recent body mass index (BMI) data compiled by the Cedar Rapids school district shows between 53-60 percent of fifth-graders attending elementary schools in the flood-impacted areas where Matthew 25 ministry works are overweight or obese. That sets our most vulnerable kids on a path toward lifelong struggles with higher medical costs and fewer opportunities.
Unfortunately, as the article indicated, the problem is complex and difficult to solve. Lack of access to healthy food, generational poverty, culture and other factors all play a part in creating the obesity epidemic. Collaboration and new ideas are essential.
Matthew 25’s Urban Farm and School Gardens are one part of shifting food culture in struggling neighborhoods. The Blue Zone initiative, education programs offered by ISU Extension and school lunch changes are other key programs. While there are costs with these programs, they pale in comparison to the cost of doing nothing.
Cedar Rapids is a city on the move, building for the next generation. As we rebuild, let’s work together to build a city where even our most vulnerable children are given the opportunity to lead healthy, productive lives.
Matthew 25 Ministry Hub
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