Your New Year's Health Potential

posted Dec 30, 2013, 12:43 PM by BHC Staff
By Nanette Yandell, MPH

Originally printed in The Triplicate on December 28, 2013
What is your health potential?

Environments where we live, work, and play shape our health. The type of environments that surround us can improve or decrease our overall health potential.

For example, tobacco-free living and working environments will decrease the chances of second-hand smoke exposure and increase our overall potential to have clean and strong lungs. Yet not everyone has the same opportunity to make choices towards reaching their highest health potential. If you work or live in a place where smokers congregate by the doorways or by ventilation systems you may be exposed to second-hand smoke with little choice. Health inequalities are preventable and are often influenced by social determinants of health.

Health equity means that everyone has the opportunity to achieve their optimal health regardless of skin color, education level, gender identity, sexual orientation, type of job, neighborhood you live in, or disabilities.

Communities that have less access to fresh affordable foods and greater availability of fast food restaurants often have diets with higher calories and lower nutrients that can lead to an increase in overweight and obesity in the population.

According to Del Norte County SNAP-Ed Coordinator Sunny Baker, “In Del Norte County seasonal crops are very limited and people don’ t always know how to prepare what is available”. Having limited access to fresh foods year round may decrease consumption of healthy food options in our community.

The Del Norte County and Adjacent Tribal Land (DNATL) Food Council is working to improve health equity in our community by advocating for our local Farmers Markets. In addition, they have a plan to help boost participation by farmers and consumers at our local Farmers Markets in 2014 across the county, by targeting SNAP-Ed eligible people and helping farmers collaborate. This is one example of how to start bridging the gap of health inequality to improve our community’s health potential.

Environments that promote active living also advance health equity. Living in a community with safe sidewalks, bike paths, and parks increase the potential that people will exercise. Increased exercise accompanied with a healthy diet will improve your overall quality of life and help you reach your optimal health potential.

Think about what your health potential could be and have conversations with your family, friends, and community on the barriers that may be getting in your way of being an even healthier you.

To learn more about some of the social demographics of our community, you can check out the Del Norte County 2013: Economic and Demographic Profile, found at