Lifestyle takes center stage

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Lakewood residents think physical inactivity, poor diet and psycho-social stress are three of the top risk factors that Jefferson County Public Health should investigate over the next five years.

At an Aug. 7 community meeting at the Clements Center, residents gathered to discuss the county’s upcoming community-health improvement plan and what the focus of that plan should be.

“We’re working on this five-year plan to make Jeffco a healthy place to live, work and play,” said Erika Jermé, community health improvement planner with the county. “The plan is for the county to work with community organizations, government agencies, elected officials and residents to develop this.”

The nearly 30 residents in attendance broke into small groups to discuss five risk factors that Jeffco intends to address: poor diet, psycho-social stress, physical inactivity, tobacco use and alcohol use.

They ranked the factors from most to least important.

Jermé said these risk factor aren’t the only ones that are contributing to some of the biggest causes of death and ill health — including cardiovascular diseases, cancers and unintentional injuries — but if they are addressed, the county has the chance to help prevent several illnesses.

“We’re looking at modifiable risk factors that can help us in several areas,” she said. “By focusing on the risk factors, instead of the diseases, we can prevent more people from getting sick.”

Small-group discussion ranged from how physical activity can cause a domino effect leading to healthier eating and less stress, to the fact that there will always be people who are going to smoke and drink.

Jeffco Public Health has been hosting similar meetings all over the county, and Jermé said the same three risk factors — physical inactivity, poor diet and psycho-social stress — have been named as the most important in all of them.

Getting public input in the process is key to the plan, she said, and residents said they were happy for a chance to participate.

“I’m here because I think it’s important to have a voice in the priorities of the health areas we’re focusing on,” said resident Laurie Schneider. “I really value the process Jeffco is using to help find out the best way to work with its partners to work together on this.”

For more information, go online to www.healthypeoplehealthyplaces.com.