On How We Got Here
COVID-19 has highlighted deep structural problems in our country, which Xavier and his team already knew existed and persisted for decades. He urges that now is the time to reprioritize our budgets and resources to tackle the structures and systems that drive health inequity.
Xavier believes that the intentional and unintentional disinvestment in neighborhoods over time has been so great that some communities simply don’t have conditions and environments that provide equitable opportunities for all residents to thrive. Take, for example, Flint, Michigan, where years after the clean water crisis, parts of the city still do not have clean tap water. And in areas where the water may be clean, because of the city’s history, people do not trust that it is. This is just one example of many where lack of investment and unjust policies have created huge disparities and put entire populations at risk for poor health.
As a result, many communities have contaminated water and no safe places for children to play. And for many families, fresh fruits and vegetables are too expensive or not available, while corner stores and fast food restaurants are the only convenient places to buy foods and drinks. This is why chronic health conditions, including obesity, are more prevalent in communities where we have disinvested in healthy policies, practices, and basic resources.
Childhood obesity is a symptom of our policy decisions and disinvestments. We need to address the root causes of children with obesity. That means making sure we have environments that are fully thriving where children have all the necessary nutrition.