At A Glance
Members of the South Los Angeles (LA) community realize now, more than ever, the importance of increasing access to food options and physical activity. Community Health Councils (CHC) in South LA engaged in activities to create awareness about the relationship between the environment and health. These activities increased the availability of healthier foods in 10 neighborhood stores and planned spaces for physical activity throughout South LA.
Public Health Challenge
South LA residents have significantly fewer grocery stores, parks, and walking trails than West LA residents. In CHC’s health equity study, West LA residents were more than 200% more likely to have access to healthy food options. The same study revealed only 75% of South LA kids had safe places to play compared to 85% of West LA kids. This was measured by parent reporting easy access to safe play, amount of green space, and miles of bike lanes. These differences in access to healthy options and places that encourage physical activity might contribute to higher obesity rates, chronic diseases, and other health related conditions. The adult obesity rate in South LA rose more than 11% between 1997 and 2007. According to a 2009 report by the LA County Department of Public Health, almost three times as many South LA residents are living with diabetes, as compared to West LA residents.
The CHC developed educational materials; conducted workshops; attended neighborhood meetings, as requested; and facilitated expert speaker presentations to create awareness about the effect of environmental factors on health. By using educational opportunities at churches, health fairs, neighborhood meetings, and other forums, the CHC improved health literacy and empowered community members to change their environments. Together, residents, researchers, business owners, grocers associations, developers, and other stakeholders identified and developed solutions to food access and physical activity barriers.