What is a health activist?

December 19, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
What is a health activist and why is it important to the total health of your family that you become one? It's not as intimidating as it sounds. The senior vice president of Community Benefit and Health Policy for Kaiser Permanente, Raymond Baxter, explains.

Tips for total health and reasons for becoming a health activist:

Don't just eat healthy yourself; make sure your family and friends and neighbors do.

Examine your environment - does it support healthy eating or work against it?

  • Your kids' school - demand healthier food and lots of PE
  • Your worksite, your friends and family's worksites
  • The stores where you and they shop
  • Your neighborhood
  • The whole community

In these places, is the healthy choice the easy choice?

Is there access to fresh vegetables and fruits?

Evidence shows that balanced eating can prevent / reduce risk for chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease - even some cancers

Same for activities. Is your environment safe for

  • Walking - sidewalks?
  • Bicycling - bike paths?
  • How's the air quality?
  • Are there safe playgrounds and parks?
  • Is the water safe?

Don't stop with taking care of yourself and your family. Take responsibility for everyone's environment - everyone's health

It's about a change in practice as well as policy

Demand your politicians assess the health impact of every law and regulation they pass

"Total health" means that it's not just about you or me; total health means everyone's health is important.

  • Everyone should be able to get high-quality, affordable care when they need it.
  • Everyone should be able to live in a community that is safe and promotes health.
  • These things only come from: speaking out, working together, looking out for each other

Don't wait for someone else to take care of your community, your environment, your health.

The future of health care is managing "total health" and making total health a reality for everyone. We at Kaiser Permanente are out there, doing what we can to shape policy and spread health.

But this is something everyone can and should participate in. If you believe health care reform should be a priority, write your congressional representative. Write your senators. Write your president-elect. The important thing is to take action and make your voice heard.


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