We all have a vision of the “Main Street” we would like to live near – tree-lined, friendly and safe. But our “Main Streets” are in disrepair. Across the country, they lack sidewalks, parks, well-stocked grocery stores with fresh food, healthy homes and apartments, and convenient public transportation. And it turns out, these things add up to a lot more than just an unpleasant place to live – they can have a major impact on our health.
There has been much in the news about the costs of medical care and our current and future economic competitiveness because of those costs. But little has been done as a nation to see if we can reduce the amount of disease we have to treat.
On Main Street in America, a woman with diabetes – perhaps one who is newly insured under health reform – will see her doctor, who after telling her what medications and tests she needs, will tell her to improve her diet and be more physically active. But what if she returns home, to a neighborhood that makes following the doctor’s advice nearly impossible because there is no supermarket with fresh food like in Detroit, where there are only 5 grocery stores for a city of 139 sq. miles?