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Caring for Populations

Caring for Populations: Part I Huntington, WV was named by the Center for Disease Control in 2010 as the least healthy city in the least healthy state of America in the most overweight nation in the developed world (Kilmer,et. al, 2008). Jamie Oliver, known as the Naked Chef, came to Huntington in the fall of 2010 to try to teach the school cooks how to prepare a healthier menu that the school children would eat. He was not met with open arms by the school cooks, the school system or children. Huntington, WV is a dying town in the rust belt of the United States that has lost its manufacturing and railroad employment.

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Unemployment is worse than the national average and, poverty hovers around 19% much greater than the national average of 15%. Huntington is located on the junction of two large rivers but there is no activity in and around the river. There is one park in the city and there is very little activity in large park that takes up five city blocks and has many activities available. 35% of the children are obese in Huntington. This area also possesses the highest rate of heart disease in the nation as well as the poorest dental health with more than 50% of the elderly without teeth.

Is it any wonder that the largest employer in the county is a hospital? Community Information According to the US Census Bureau, the population of Cabell County in which Huntington is located in the majority of the county is 95, 214 making it the second largest in the state of WV which has a population of 1,819,777 (US Census, 2009). 92. 5% are white in the county and 94. 4% in the state are white as well. 21% have a bachelor degree compared to 14% in the state (US Census, 2009). Marshall University is located in the city that is the second largest employer and has a medical school.

The median household income is $33,360 while the state’s median is $37,528. The United States median income is $49,777. Cabell County has more than $172 million in foodservice sales per year out of almost 2 billion in the state (US Census, 2009). Home ownership rates for the county are at 64% compared to 75% for the state and 67% for the nation. But when you drive around Huntington, the majority of the homes are in disrepair. A significant portion are rented out to college students. Then there is another significant portion around the old ndustries that are in disrepair. Once the railroad tracks are crossed to go around the city park, there are older, architectural masterpieces where the wealthy live. There are very few yards of any size in town. People can get around in town by bus normally. There is a bike rack at the college but there are rarely any in it. Residents have to travel out of Huntington to shop at the mall, but when they want to “hang out” there is a large city block downtown that has restaurants, theaters, comedy club, etc.

Street people “hang out” behind this on the river front behind the flood wall out of site. There is a tent city allowed there by the city. There are multiple churches throughout the city, but most of them reflect the city and are in disrepair as well. There are several hospitals in the city. One affiliated with the medical school that rotates trauma call with a Catholic Hospital that specializes in heart disease and meeting the needs of the community. There are two more within a fifteen minute drive. Problem and Significance Childhood obesity leads to many health problems in adult hood.

Obese children experience an increase in asthma (all time high now), skin diseases, joint pain and there is an increase in diabetes type II and hypertension now in childhood. These children also develop a negative self image, low self esteem, depression and are exposed to bullying and teasing more than other children. Discrimination and social marginalization occurs as well. Federal food programs in the school mandate a “healthy menu” but what the government considers “healthy” is not nessesarily the best. Frozen tator tots for a vegetable? Physical activity has been decreased to 10-15 minutes nationwide in schools.

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