The health of our citizens is a national issue, and it’s one that we’re all responsible for. With up to 50 million Americans suffering from chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, there is a need to encourage a healthy lifestyle among our community circles. Improving a community’s health outcomes can have a wide range of benefits for both individuals and society as a whole—from reduced morbidity and mortality to economic stability and improved quality of life.
However, it’s important to remember that the United States is a nation of people with different backgrounds, beliefs, and lifestyles. This diversity can lead to health disparities among the population. As a nation, we must unite to encourage healthy lifestyle choices to achieve better health outcomes for everyone. To this end, here are three specific strategies that you could consider to encourage a healthy lifestyle in culturally diverse communities:
1. Design culturally diverse health projects
Different cultures have different beliefs, values, and practices related to health and healthcare. For example, Indians supplement Western medicine with Ayurveda, which emphasizes natural remedies and lifestyle practices. Traditional Chinese medicine is another illustration of a cultural health practice that promotes balance through herbal treatments and meditation. Designing culturally-diverse health initiatives that are sensitive to these practices can help ensure that they are well-received across the board. A post on cross-cultural leadership from Maryville University notes that respecting cultural norms and customs while working through differences and finding common ground is essential for diverse communities. After all, acknowledging cultural customs is critical to fostering a sense of community, especially when implementing health promotion campaigns, screenings, and education programs.
It’s important to remember that no two people are alike, and by extension, no two cultures are alike. When designing a health project for a diverse range of people, you must consider different beliefs about how health and medicine work. Addressing these cultural barriers while developing your projects can impact their success.
2. Make healthy choices more accessible
To make healthy choices more accessible, you need to work with different stakeholders. This may involve working with local supermarkets and grocery stores to increase the availability of healthy food options from diverse parts of the world. It may also include working with restaurants and food vendors across different cuisines and regions to offer healthier menu options. Even the CDC encourages vendors to consider cultural food preferences by offering familiar yet healthy ingredients in their menu offerings.
Financial barriers can also prevent some individuals from making healthy choices. Strategies to reduce the cost of healthy options may include subsidies for healthy foods, price discounts for healthy options, or financial assistance programs. Creating a supportive physical and economic environment that promotes healthy behaviors can help individuals in diverse communities make healthier choices.
3. Provide culturally-appropriate resources about health
People of different cultures may have different beliefs about what is healthy. For example, some cultures may place a greater emphasis on natural remedies or traditional healers, while others may have different dietary preferences or beliefs about the causes of illness. So, one effective way to encourage a healthy lifestyle in a culturally diverse community is to partner with leaders who are already trusted and respected within each cultural group. These individuals and organizations can help promote healthy lifestyle choices to their members and constituents.
Another way is to translate resources into different languages. For example, our “Food Nutrition Guidelines to Keep Your Kids Healthy” post can be translated into Spanish, Chinese, and Afrikaans to ensure that all community members have access to this information. By doing so, we can create a culture of inclusivity and respect.
When it comes to health, communities are strengthened, and families are supported when everyone is on the same page through education, awareness, and access. By understanding cultural differences and using them as an advantage when advocating for your community’s health needs, we can improve health outcomes for all.
Article written by Rosie Jess