Poor health is a barrier to receiving a high quality education. Current issues in health as they relate to children include:
- Lack of health insurance. This issue is particularly relevant for children who live in communities of color. A recent report from the Minority Health Initiatives states that children of color are more likely to lack health coverage: There are currently 8.1 million uninsured children in the US and more than 5 million of them are children of color.
- Obesity. Over the past three decades, the childhood obesity rate has more than doubled for preschool children ages 2-5 years and adolescents ages 12-19 years, and it has more than tripled for children ages 6-11 years. Children of color are more likely to be overweight than Caucasian adolescents. Obesity leads to elevated total cholesterol, triglycerides, insulin or blood pressure. The obesity-associated annual hospital costs for children and youth more than tripled over two decades, rising from $35 million in 1979-1981 to $127 million in 1997-1999.
- Poor nutrition. Lack of nutritious food choices leads to many health issues including poor dental health. Poor dental health is one of the leading causes of absences for school-age children
Unsung heroes are fighting these battles in local communities every day. Administered by the Harris Foundation, the Community Health Leaders Award is a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation which recognizes those individuals who are working to improve health and expand access to health care in their own communities. For more information on the program and to see the 2010 awardees, please click here. The 2011 Call for Nominations has now been closed.