On the morning of Tuesday, November 21st, EverThrive Illinois sponsored a roundtable at the Matteson Community Center focusing on “The Intersection of Obesity and Women’s Health in Illinois’ 2nd Congressional District”. The framing for this conversation is based upon the fact that women, particularly in communities of color, are experiencing higher rates of obesity and chronic diseases in comparison to men, which in turn can have an impact on maternal health.
Our Community Engagement Director, Tamela Milan-Alexander, hosted the event alongside Representative Robin Kelly (IL-2D). Other panelists included Dr. Veronica R. Johnson, Assistant Professor of General Internal Medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and Dr. Justin Ryder, Associate Professor of Surgery and Pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Lurie Children’s Hospital.
Among those who attended were representatives from the Village of Matteson, including Mayor Sheila Y. Chalmers-Currin, and individuals within the health care space. People who work in pediatrics, pharmacy, health equity, and nursing were also part of this conversation. EverThrive Illinois’ Communications Coordinator, Jordyn Hester, was also present and gave insight on the discussion:
“One thing I took note of is how the problem of obesity and chronic diseases was addressed from a systemic standpoint. Usually, the responsibility is put solely on the individual, but in this conversation, it was acknowledged that there are multiple factors that impact women’s health like socio-economic disparities, lack of access to healthy food, lack of access to adequate mental and physical care, little to no education on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle, cultural incompetence, and other factors that continue for generations.”
According to Jordyn, there were discussions of things that worked regarding health in other states and Illinois that we should adopt and continue, including a pop-up grocery store like the one in Harvey. She thinks the main takeaway everyone got is that reaching and assisting members of communities that are impacted the most directly is needed the most. “After this discussion, I’m confident that we will see this happen”, Jordyn stated.