Special features of the Individual factors that can influence risk of obesity include age and race. While obesity is a significant problem among the entire adult population, some groups are disproportionately affected. Among U.S. adults, Black and Latino populations have substantially higher rates of obesity than do White populations. This is true among both men and women. In Berrien county, those between the ages of 25 and 64 are more likely to be obese than younger or older populations. Mapping this data at the population level can pinpoint locations with greater obesity risk based on key Individual factors.
Health is determined, in part, by access to social and economic opportunities. The conditions in which people live, Family-Social factors, help explain why some Americans are unhealthier than others. Features in Family-Social factors include educational attainment, living in poverty, access to a vehicle, living in single-parent households, and living in areas with high crime. These features are associated with disparate burdens and poor health outcomes, including higher rates of illness and early death. Mapping Family-Social factor data can identify populations with a higher risk of having poor health and developing chronic health conditions.
Community, workplace, and school structures play a key role in influencing obesity. Where people live, work, learn, and play, strongly influences social norms surrounding food, physical activity, and lifestyle. Working in occupations with high obesity-prevalence, attending schools within economically disadvantaged areas, and living in densely populated neighborhoods are factors associated with an increased risk of obesity.
Community Resource Factors
Lack of access to key community resources can contribute to poor health behaviors associated with obesity and other obesity-related illness, such as diabetes and heart disease. Many places of worship engage with the health of their communities and offer support to those dealing with health-related challenges. Lack of access to places to purchase healthy food contributes to a poor diet low in fruits and vegetables and is associated with higher obesity rates and illness. Those who live far away from medical services are less likely to receive necessary treatment and preventative care. Lack of access to places for recreation, such as parks and community fitness opportunities, is associated with lower levels of physical activity and higher obesity rates, particularly among adolescents. Lack of access to public or non-motorized transportation limits access to a wide variety of resources. Identifying locations with low access can help focus environmental interventions aimed at filling gaps in infrastructure or service.
Policies are laws, ordinances, or regulations, either formal or informal, which influence the risk of obesity. These factors play a major role in determining the choices individuals make regarding health behaviors. The goal of changing Policy factors is to create long-lasting change and improvement in the health of the entire community. The Be Healthy Berrien 2015-2020 Strategic Plan specifically addresses policies related to non-motorized transportation and K-12 environments.
The connections between health and transportation are wide-ranging. Because the transportation system helps shape how communities are designed and operate, it can have a profound influence — both positive and negative — on public health . Where transportation infrastructure is designed to accommodate or even encourage non-motorized transportation, such as through complete streets policies, it can have a positive effect on public health. By making walking and biking safe and convenient, we can make it much easier for people to build routine physical activity into their daily lives.
Health behaviors of adolescents who attend K-12 educational institutions are strongly influenced by the policies, practices, and environments of the school in which they are enrolled. Schools that have indicated an interest in enhancing nutrition programs or implementing Safe Routes to Schools ® programs are more likely to have policies and practices that support healthy behaviors, like eating fruits and vegetables and participating in physical activity.