State health officials are asking communities in Iowa to renew efforts to make neighborhoods healthy for kids as part of National Public Health Week. Kevin Teale is the communications director for the Iowa Department of Public Health. He says the theme of the week this year is “Designing Healthy Communities, Raising Healthy Kids,” and he says they’re asking that communities include parks and sidewalks so people and kids have a way to exercise and stay healthy. Teale says the week helps raise awareness. He says it’s a fairly new event started in the mid 1990’s that he says is a chance to look at the things that public health has done for America and the world. Teale says a lot of what they do “is somewhat invisible, keeping the water clean, keeping the air clean, etcetera.” Teale says public health workers don’t always know themselves the impact of the work they do.Teale says, “One of the difficulties in public health is that we never really know how many cases of breast cancer we might have prevented because of a public health campaign. Or how many cases of another infectious disease we may have prevented, or a food borne illness because of the restaurant inspections we do. So public health really is sort of the silent miracle in America.” Teale says the healthy communities issue is one that’s stepped into the spotlight just recently. Teale says we were making good progress until the last couple of years when problems with obesity surfaced. He says Americans don’t have a very good diet and don’t get enough physical activity. For more information you can go to the Iowa Dept. of Public Health’s website at www.idph.state.ia.us. The site includes a calendar of events in Iowa for National Public Health Week.
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