Last updated: September 05. 2013 12:44PM - 651 Views
Greg Stotelmyer Kentucky News Connection

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ERLANGER — The goal is simple, the challenge difficult — how to ensure that the current generation of children in Kentucky grows up healthier than their parents.

A free one-day conference coming up in Erlanger will attempt to draw engaged civic leaders into that effort.

Larry Cohen, executive director of the Prevention Institute in Oakland, Calif., will be a headliner at the forum.

He says it takes leadership and vision to grow community health.

“The faith community, the schools, the neighborhoods you know, all have something at stake here,” he explains. “And by working together for community health, everyone benefits.”

Cohen says a study his organization was involved in found that, for every dollar spent on community prevention of health problems, six dollars could be saved.

The conference takes place September 16 and is free to attend. Register online, on the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky website.

Susan Zepada, president and CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, says it’s hard work to change behaviors and it isn’t a top-down effort - everyone has a role to play. Thus, the forum’s title - “Communities Connecting for Healthier Kids.”

“Whether it’s fast food outlets that are offering healthy alternatives,” Zepada says. “Whether it’s state parks that are offering healthy kid friendly meals made with local produce. Whether it’s employers who gently encourage employees to use the steps.”

Zepada adds some Kentuckians’ habits around eating, smoking, drinking and exercise have long contributed to the chronic health problems faced by the state.

Cohen says community health is also a good financial investment for business.

“We’ve seen businesses right now spend $73 billion on preventable, chronic diseases and I underline ‘preventable,’” he says.

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