City Council Adopts Health Chapter - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

City Council Adopts Health Chapter

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Eau Claire (WQOW) - After more than two years in the works, the Eau Claire City Council has adopted the city's Health Chapter in its comprehensive plan.

"We had a lot of requests from our health department and a lot of other people in the health field both public and private who felt we really needed to set a road map for improving public health in the city of Eau Claire and the surrounding area,"  says City Council Vice President Dave Duax.

That road map revolves around creating a more health conscious "Built Environment."  What is a "Built Environment?" It is any man-made structure found in the city, such as buildings, parks, trails and roadways.

"Your health as a community and as an individual is very much connected to how your community is designed.  Which is what the built environment is and that's what the comprehensive plan is about,"  says Nate Jahn, the Eau Claire YMCA Health and Wellness Director.  "It's not about forcing people to be active at all, it's about providing opportunities to make that healthy decision."

According to the American Public Health Association, the U.S. spends 75 percent of all health care dollars on treatment, compared to only 3 percent on prevention.  Meanwhile, 7 out of 10 deaths are caused by chronic diseases that are preventable.  The main focus of the Health Chapter is prevention.

"This is extremely important for health care.  This is primary prevention at the core.  This is how we prevent sickness down the road, and it's not tomorrow, this is generations from now it will show the outcomes of these changes," says Jahn.

The health chapter is a very long-term and complicated plan for the city of Eau Claire, but if it has the effect they're hoping, it could have a very positive impact on the entire city.

"Why improve public health?  Because the public is paying for the costs of a lot of that.  We pay for it in insurance that we pay for employees, all businesses do the same, they pay part of that insurance, individuals pay part of that insurance.  The idea is to not only improve public health, but save the cost of maintaining that health," adds Duax.

Those who played a part in crafting the health chapter want to stress that the idea is not to set down rules and regulations on health and wellness, but rather to set guidelines to improve the city for the future.  An example would be to build a grocery store within walking distance from a residential area.

A controversial proposal involving a body mass index map of the city was not included in the final proposal.

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