March 31, 2023; Washington, D.C. — Americans rank poorly on many health outcomes compared to other nations. Things only got worse during the pandemic. We’re obese, sick and dying younger than ever. So what’s really behind America’s poor health? Over the next year, NPR’s new series Living Better investigates the causes of America’s poor health and what can be done about it. Learn more about what inspired the series: HERE.
Read and listen to the stories: Living Better: NPR
We know poor health is driven by these key determinants: poor nutrition, lack of physical activity, stress, trauma and social isolation, poverty and racism, a culture of overwork, and a lack of government policies to intervene and reverse these dangerous trends. In short, the system is often stacked against an individual’s efforts to make “healthy choices.”
The good news is, it’s a big and diverse country, with many subcultures and great variety in local conditions and policies and pockets of innovation. Throughout the year NPR will be asking this question: How do we live better in America? We will go sleuthing for examples of success in improving people’s health outcomes and lives. We’ll tell stories of communities and individuals who have bucked the trends, and share new good ideas that deserve to be spread, and smart policies that deserve to be funded.
The series will have four main areas of coverage;
- Environmental causes: Stories that help people understand how social determinants of health mean our environment is often stacked against us.
- Community solutions: Stories that highlight solutions, big and small, – including local and national policies – and present them in context, explaining the societal pressures they’re up against.
- Individual tips: The latest science and innovative ideas worth sharing for how you can improve your own health and well-being.
- Medical breakthroughs: Stories about new medications and treatments that can help prevent or treat chronic disease and buy people more years of healthy life.
The series begins with kids, because childhood is where health and health disparities start. What a child experiences growing up affects their health and well-being for life. It can lead to thriving as an adult or facing disease and a shortened life expectancy as an adult. These stories explore how to set children up for success and to help parents navigate a culture that makes the healthy choice the hard one.
The first several stories, available now, deal with new treatments for childhood obesity, how to counteract the dangerous effects of social media, and the impact of ultraprocessed foods on kids’ diets. New weight-loss medications and bariatric surgery have the potential to spare children health and social problems, but some parents think they’re sending kids the wrong message about their bodies. Parents are also worried about their kids losing themselves for hours on their phones. Turns out, teens are troubled too. But they also know a lot about how to get unhooked. Listen to the series to find out what parents can do about it.
All stories in the Living Better series will publish: HERE
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