Rates of chronic disease such as diabetes and asthma are higher in many low-income communities, where there are often few public places to exercise and more fast food than grocery stores. A new coalition aims to change this. The Massachusetts Public Health Association is pushing for new zoning laws, state tax credits and stricter rules in the case of school nutrition and exercise.
A study out last month found that the state could save at least $55 million dollars a year on Medicaid if it reduced the rate of chronic disease by five percent.
The group will call for action to accomplish four priorities in the next two years:
Passage of zoning reform legislation that promotes communities whose structure makes healthy activity an easy choice every day;
Use of economic development resources to support more affordable grocery stores in food deserts and healthier corner stores;
Stronger state and federal school nutrition standards; and
Passage of legislation to reinstate school physical education requirements.