|Type of paper:||Research paper|
Understanding the Community
While several cities in the U.S are characterized with high levels of income and good social structures such as New York, San Francisco, and Las Vegas, there are several others that are predominantly low-income cities. The focus of this paper is on Boston. As per the 2010 population census, Boston had a population of 617,591 people made up of people from different backgrounds. As per the 2010 census, at least 47.1% of the population was made up of males and 52.9% female. Boston is a multicultural city, with the black population making up 22.4% (150,437), 53% while and the American indigenous population makes up 0.2% (Infoplease, 2015).
The population of Boston has increased by almost 5% from 589,141 people in 2000 to 617,591 people in 2010. The largest increase was noted among the Latinos who previously made up 14.4% of the city's population in 2000 to 18.6% in 2012.
Boston is the 10th poorest city in the United States. At least 29% of the population earns below $25,000, and the percentage of the population without a degree is estimated at 57%. The median income for Boston residents with at least a high school education is approximately between $26,800 and $33,800. By 2012, more than 32% of the residents with less than a high school diploma lived below the poverty line. The unemployment rate in Boston is pegged at an estimated 11%; with blacks, Latinos and Asian residents have significantly higher unemployment rates than whites (Infoplease, 2015). Still based on the 2010 and 2012 data, the poverty rates of Asians, Blacks and Latinos in Boston were 30.3%, 25.1%, and 34.4% respectively. Politically, most residents of Boston lean to the Democrat front. In all the elections since 1996, more than 60% of the electorates have voted for the Democratic Party as compared to the 30-36% who votes for the Republican Party.
One of the problems that Boston is facing is the growing rates of obesity. According to the CDC, the rate of adult obesity in Boston metropolitan area is pegged at 22%. Hence it is increasingly becoming a health concern that needs redress. The rates of adult obesity have increased from 19% in 2005 to the high of 22% stated above. It is worth noting that while the rates may be significantly lower than other cities with worst stats about obesity, it is still a critical public health concern that needs adequate attention and policy. The American states with the highest levels of obesity, above 35%, include Alabama, Louisiana, West Virginia and Mississippi; with Louisiana leading the list with a prevalence rate of 36.2% (Ducharme, 2016).
In addition to that, more than 15% of high school students are obese. CDC further notes that the rates of obesity are disproportionately distributed among the different racial groups in Boston. 15.2% of the Asian population is categorized as being obese. The African Americans in Boston have the highest prevalence of obesity at 33%. Obesity is also highly prevalent among the Latinos with a rate of 27.3% (CDC, 2018). It is lowest among whites at only 16.2%.
As can be seen, different social, biological or environmental factors can be attributed to the growing rates of obesity in the country. One of the overarching factors is the lack of physical fitness or lack of engagement in productive employment or similar activities. The research further indicated that the prevalence of obesity was high among households earning with less than $25,000 at 29% whereas the rate was only 17% among those living in households exceeding $50,000 in income (Boston Public Health Commission, 2015).
From the table above, it can be seen that the rates of obesity are highest among the unemployed and those out of work at 29.3%. Those in employment have the least occurrence of obesity at 17.7% (Boston Public Health Commission, 2015). This implies that lack of employment and income opportunities is a risk factor for obesity in the city. From the discussion above, the most affected groups are the non-white, who also live in not-so-good socioeconomic conditions as seen from the discussion above.
From an etiological perspective, it can be noted that the poor economic situation in the city makes good nutrition to be inaccessible to most residents. As most of them are unemployed and those who are employed earn very low, eating junk and unbalanced meals is the norm. This contributes immensely to their high levels of obesity. In addition to that, low levels of physical activity is also a risk factor. Many other risk factors that contribute to the problem such as race, level of education and others have been mentioned above.
Several strengths give Boston an upper hand in resolving the problem. More than 94% of Bostonians have medical insurance; implying that they are ready and willing to invest in their health and wellness (Boston Public Health Commission, 2015). With several physical amenities such as parks and open spaces, there is an opportunity to encourage physical activity which will reduce the occurrence of the problem. In the same way, different nutritional health providers can potentially provide nutritional guidance and enable the resolution of the problem.
Some of the universities in Boston include Boston University, University of Massachusetts, Harvard Medical and Business Schools, Berkley College and Suffolk University among many others. These facilities provide a good avenue for research and the development of good health policy that will realize the reduction in the prevalence of obesity and other health conditions. Some of the nutritional centers in the area include Sargent Choice center, Frances Stern Nutritional Center and Boston Medical center among others. The BCYF recreational center at Madison Park and Boston University fitness center are some of the many recreational facilities in Boston which can be used for physical activities. Churches include the First Church of Boston, Trinity Church, and Emmanuel Episcopal Church of Boston. These religious groups provide a good avenue for awareness and policy emancipation.
Community and Policy Action Plan
The proposed plan is to make Bostonians more physically active and nutritionally sound. One of the strategies will be to encourage more people to use the available facilities such as parks and gyms for physical fitness. Another strategy will be to encourage walking or cycling to work as opposed to driving which hinders physical fitness (Boston University, 2018). This strategy will be realized by encouraging the bike-sharing arrangement that has been in place but underused. Public awareness and policy support from the local government and other players will realize the success of the action plan. The local government can encourage policies like "no drive" days where people leave their cars at home and walk or cycle to work as a means of creating awareness.
Boston University, (2018). "Combating Boston'S Youth Obesity Problem - Bostonia Web Exclusives". 2018. Bu.Edu. Retrieved from http://www.bu.edu/bostonia/web/youth-obesity/ on June 24 2018.
Boston Public Health Commission, (2015). Health of Boston 2014-2015: Boston Public Health Commission Research and Evaluation Office. Boston, Massachusetts.
CDC, (2018). Community Profile Boston, MA - Communities Putting Prevention To Work. Cdc.Gov. Accessed June 24 2018. https://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dch/programs/communitiesputtingpreventiontowork/communities/profiles/both-ma_boston.htm.
Ducharme, Jamie. (2016). "Mass. Is One Of The Least Obese States In The Country". Boston Magazine. Accessed June 24 2018. https://www.bostonmagazine.com/health/2016/09/02/massachusetts-obesity-data/.
Infoplease, (2015). Boston, Mass.: Population, Weather, Demographics, Facts, History, Mayor, Landmarks. 2018. Infoplease. Accessed June 24 2018. https://www.infoplease.com/world/us-cities/boston-mass.
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