Healthy Farms Require Healthy Farmers

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It’s been one year since North Carolina Farm Bureau launched Healthy Living for a Lifetime. To date, the initiative has provided free health screenings for more than 2,000 farmers and rural residents across 25 counties. The results have confirmed the health issues of rural North Carolina are both pervasive and severe.

Because the state’s greatest asset is its people, good health is a basic requirement for economic viability and success. Many rural areas in North Carolina are not receiving the professional healthcare they need and deserve. In fact, in most rural areas of the state, the medical needs greatly outweigh the number of doctors, clinics and hospitals available.

As a responsible corporate partner, North Carolina Farm Bureau recognized this unfilled need and implemented the Healthy Living mobile health program as a way to not only help farmers, but rural residents and families. Because diet is a major factor in the health of any community, we need healthy and prosperous farms. To have healthy farms, we need healthy farmers.

Keeping people working also plays an important role in maintaining rural economies. Issues such as chronic pain, high blood pressure and amputations due to diabetes are common conditions around which people still need to find ways to secure income.

Farm Bureau has a long history of giving back to rural communities. That’s why North Carolina Farm Bureau established the Healthy Living for a Lifetime initiative in 2010. Through early detection, follow-up health support and the establishment of healthy lifestyle habits, this initiative will increase long-term employability among participants. It will also help rural residents find local medical homes or ongoing health services.

The results of the screenings have been that while about 75 percent of participants identified themselves as being in good or excellent health, more than 70 percent were actually overweight or obese. Moreover, a significantly higher percentage of this population was at high risk for obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes, and high blood pressure when compared to national averages.

In addition to the screenings, the events have brought together many of the county’s health and health support services in one place. The people who have passed through screening stations were able to discuss their results with medical professionals and learn about health and wellness resources in their county.

A lack of doctors and other medical professionals is a common problem in rural areas, but related problems also hinder access to healthcare for many rural residents. Those problems can Larry  Wooten NCFB Presidentinclude lack of transportation, lack of knowledge about cost resources, and other issues.

Rural America comprises approximately 25 percent of the nation’s population, yet it experiences higher poverty rates, fewer doctors and poorer health. More than 18 percent of North Carolinians are uninsured and the number is rising. Compared to their urban counterparts, the state’s rural residents have less access to quality health care, higher poverty rates, fewer new jobs and a lack of critical knowledge of health prevention and wellness.

That’s why North Carolina Farm Bureau’s Healthy Living for a Lifetime initiative is vital to the farmers and rural residents of the state. Together, we can make a difference.
Follow the Healthy Living for a Lifetime mobile trailer and check the schedule for visits to your area at: www.healthylivingforalifetime.com.

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