This “Winter Wellness” issue of U.S. 1 is one of three published in the course of a year that specifically address common health concerns of our readers and their families (the other two are the Health & Fitness issue in June and the Senior Living issue in November).

For some of us this is the equivalent of a New Year’s resolutions issue: Can we resolve to exercise more, eat less, make better choices about eating and drinking, and so on? For others it’s a chance to re-evaluate our existing wellness programs and reconsider all the elements of the work-life balance. To review the content from our more than two dozen sponsors, please turn to page 7.

#b#To the Editor: An Apple a Day Not Always Easy#/b#

Are you resolving to eat more fruits and vegetables in 2015? While you may have your pick of apples at your local supermarket, many are limited to boxed and packaged foods on the shelves at their local corner store.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines food insecurity as “limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods or limited or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods.” For many families in New Jersey, fresh, healthy food is not affordable or accessible. In fact, according to the USDA, over 11 percent of New Jersey families have food insecurities and nearly 5 percent have very low food security. For many, the main food source is the local corner store or bodega.

Unfortunately, the majority of these stores are simply not equipped to sell fresh fruits and vegetables or other healthy choices. Options are limited to processed foods, which are often high in sodium and trans-fat-two ingredients that can lead to an increased risk in cardiovascular disease, our nation’s No. 1 health threat.

The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association is partnering with several other organizations on the New Jersey Healthy Corner Store Initiative. This initiative connects store owners and community leaders with resources needed to increase the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables and other healthy foods in corner stores and bodegas.

While individual behaviors must change in order to combat obesity, statewide environmental and policy-changing strategies must also take effect. Corner stores play a critical role in the health of many families in New Jersey. By working together, we can make the healthy choice, the easy accessible choice and ultimately improve the overall health of our state.

Consider joining in this effort to build healthier communities by volunteering with the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association by calling 609-223-3720 or E-mailing corinne.orlando@heart.org.

James S. McKinney, MD

Central NJ American Heart Association Board of Directors

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