Healthy Food? Increased Physical Activity? Providence Residents say YES!

Poll shows strong support for policies that make the healthy choice the easy choice

PROVIDENCE, RI – (March 15, 2016) – Newly released results from a recent poll of Providence residents shows very strong support for state and local policies centered on healthy food access and physical activity.

Nearly all voters say that healthy food options are important to have at local childcare programs (97%), hospitals (96%), city properties (93%), and workplaces (92%). More than four in five voters support policies that food options in these locations meet certain nutritional standards: childcare programs (93%), hospitals (92%), city properties (89%), and workplaces (88%).

“It is wonderful to see Providence residents voicing their support of creating healthier food environments,” said Dr. Karen Aspry, Cardiologist and American Heart Association Rhode Island Board President-Elect. “A healthy diet is a critical step in reducing the incidence and death rates from diet-related diseases like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer and others. Establishing strong nutrition standards in public places throughout the state will make the healthy choice the easy choice for residents and visitors of Rhode Island.”

Along with healthy food access, Providence residents also recognize the importance of instilling lifelong healthy habits by increasing physical activity for children and adults. Seventy percent of voters say that a lack of physical activity and exercise is a major issue for children, teens, and families living in Providence and 91% of voters favor having schools incorporate physical activity throughout the school day through elementary school recess, physical activity breaks, physical activity clubs, and other special events.

A full 90-percent of Providence respondents supported the American Heart Association’s recommendation of 30 minutes of physical education per day for elementary students and 45 minutes per day for middle and high school students.

“It is important to me that my children live active lifestyles and have access to healthy foods at school and at home,” said Jennifer Quigley-Harris, parent with children in the Providence Public Schools and member of the Providence Public School District Health and Wellness Committee. “As a mother of two, I have seen first-hand the impact of healthy lifestyles. My children perform better in school when they are physically active and eat better.”

In order for adults and children to get the exercise they need to be healthy, they need places to be active. Poll results show support from Providence residents to increase access to safe recreational spaces in the city. Eighty-eight percent of voters in Providence say they support using local resources to provide staff and other assistance that would allow more community members to use school recreation facilities after school hours, with 56% strongly supporting the proposal.

The Providence poll indicates a strong and broad base of support for American Heart Association’s initiative, with significant majorities supporting proposals to implement nutrition standards for foods available in a variety of locations, have minimum standards for physical education in schools, and expand access to recreational facilities for community members.

This poll of 400 Providence residents was conducted by the American Heart Association’s Providence ANCHOR Project (Accelerating National Community Health Outcomes through Reinforcing Partnerships Project) in September 2015. Working alongside coalition partners and community members, efforts are ongoing to increase healthy food options and provide more physical activity for children. There are many ways for interested community members to get involved in this work. Please contact RI ANCHOR Project Lead Candace Pierce for more information at candace.pierce@heart.org.

The ANCHOR Project is a federally funded collaboration between the American Heart Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Providence is one of 15 communities across the country selected for CDC’s Division of Community Health grant projects. The ANCHOR project seeks to build and strengthen health promotion efforts at the community level.

For more information on the American Heart Association visit www.heart.org. For more information on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention go to www.cdc.gov.

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About the American Heart Association

The American Heart Association is devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – the two leading causes of death in the world. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The Dallas-based association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-800-AHA-USA1, visit heart.org or call any of our offices around the country.  Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. #GetHealthyProv

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