Latino State News
Residents Look to Lead Healthier Lives After Study
After a study by the Sinai Urban Health Institute, Humboldt Park and other Chicago neighborhood residents were presented with startling facts, but instead of ignoring the findings, the residents chose to take action and lead healthier lives.
The research showed that between 2000 and 2006, 21 percent of the Puerto Rican population of Humboldt Park was diabetic, compared to the 4 percent of diabetic Mexicans in the same neighborhood, and 11 percent of Puerto Ricans in New York City.
The frightening findings, which could have simply been ignored, where taken seriously by the residents, and researchers believe the positive outcome was due, in large part, to the way the study was conducted.
The study was the result of a 500-question survey written side by side with community leaders, conducted by local residents and intended to promote a healthier lifestyle. Steve Whitman, director of the institute, said those factors set the survey apart from other urban-health initiatives.
Whitman added that because the community felt ownership of the data the residents were more compelled to act on it.
The community’s willingness to make changes in their lives has led to a number of health initiatives. Residents have been getting free diabetes screenings at a local health center, and have improved the produce selection and availability at local markets.
Acknowledging the health issue was only half of the equation. To not perpetuate the unhealthy lifestyle, residents started fitness programs including one called Block by Block which is part health-education campaign, and part epidemiological survey.
Whitman said the changes in the community are exactly what him and his colleagues were hoping for.
“Lots of people analyze and demonstrate health disparities,” he said. “The point is to fix them.”