I N T RO D U C T I ON
Video Introduction: Dr. Roger Rennekamp, Extension Health Director, Cooperative Extension/ECOP, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities
Every day, people make choices that impact their health. Those choices have been the focus of health professionals for years. Generations of time, energy, and resources have been dedicated to informing and
influencing these choices through education, social marketing, and scores of other methods. As a result, our public discourse around health has been framed as a personal responsibility where good health is seen as a personal success, ill health a personal failing. Without question, there is much that we can do as individuals to improve our health such as increasing physical activity and eating healthier meals.
Physical Activity Guidelines for
Americans, Second Edition
Dietary Guidelines for Americans,
Currently, only 23 percent adults engage in the minimum amount of recommended leisure-time physical activity (HHS, 2018) and only one in ten meet federal guidelines for fruit and vegetable consumption (Lee et at, 2022). We now know that linking a person’s health outcomes to their individual choices alone tells an incomplete story. Those choices exist within a system of contextual factors that together have a far greater influence on health than their individual behaviors. Collectively, these factors are referred to as the social determinants of health . When an individual or community is negatively impacted by the social determinants of health, they are said to be experiencing health inequities. Among the groups experiencing the greatest inequities are people of color and those who live in rural areas. While we must all accept personal responsibility for doing what we can to maintain and improve our own health, we as a nation must act now to eliminate the unfair and unjust policies and practices that prevent all of us being as healthy as we can be.
In this context, the need for a refreshed framework to guide Cooperative Extension’s health -related work has never been greater. This document is designed to serve as that framework.
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