I’ve made several changes to improve my health. I take the stairs as opposed to the elevator. I avoid unhealthy snacks or sugary drinks. And, I strive to eat three healthy meals a day.

As Buena Vista Township Treasurer and Parks and Recreation Committee member, taking these steps were vital. While I am proud of the decisions I’ve made, too many in our community are unable to make similar ones because they lack access to nutritious foods and safe places to be active.

This is the case in Buena Vista Township and across Michigan, where food and recreation deserts are contributing to the obesity epidemic among kids and teens, many of whom are too young to make lifestyle changes on their own.

Across the country, 35.2 percent of black youth are overweight or obese, compared with 31.8 percent of all children and adolescents. The current obesity rate among Black youth is higher than the national average of 16.9 percent, and among adolescents, black girls have a higher prevalence rate with 42.5 percent being obese or overweight.

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