Webb County to host 2022 Healthy Living Fair

On Friday, a number of healthcare agencies will gather to provide their services at the Rio Bravo Community Center as part of the 2022 Healthy Living Fair. Commissioner Jesse Gonzalez encourages residents to attend and make sure health is a priority.

The health fair will run between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. with agencies like the Webb County Public Health Services, Chicanos Por La Causa, SCAN, Gateway Community, Texas WIC, Border Region, MHP Salud and more attending. Over the past year, a number of the agencies have collaborated with the county to provide services during health events in an effort to give residents opportunities to have their health checked and take steps to living healthy.

The 2022 Healthy Living Fair will provide numerous services including:

•    Free blood pressure and glucose screenings.
•    On-site administration of COVID-19 vaccines for children and adults.
•    Substance use screenings.
•    Mental health screenings.
•    Mindful and stress reduction activities featuring Yoga, Zumba and Mindfulness.
•    Information on community resources and services.

This is one of the health service events geared toward promoting a healthy lifestyle amid the circumstances of the border community’s obesity and diabetes rate. According to the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute 2022 County Health Rankings and Roadmaps, Webb County ranked no. 225 out of 244 Texas Counties for health factors.

“Obesity is a public health priority. Rates of overweight and obesity continue to grow in adults and children,” City of Laredo Health Director Dr. Richard A. Chamberlain told LMT in March. “Collectively, 33% of the adult population of Laredo and Webb County meet the definition of obesity, and a further 38% are at-risk of developing obesity.”

Furthermore, Dr. Victor Trevino, former Health Authority said obesity can cause diabetes, hypertension, arthritis, fatty liver and other problems for the heart and other important organs in the body.

“The issues surrounding obesity encompass many factors from diet, exercise, healthier food access and education on healthier alternatives,” Trevino said. 

“The obesity trends continue to grow due to socioeconomic disparities, food insecurity and differences in cultural beliefs and practices. Understanding our cultural community, a vast majority of the population lacks consumption of fruits and vegetables as well as access to nutritious foods. Additionally, there is a lack of physical activity amongst children and adults in our community.”

The 2022 County Health Rankings state the percentage of county residents reporting fair or poor health (34%) is more than 50% greater than the percentage of statewide residents (21%). In addition, Webb County residents report an average of 5.0 poor physical health days and 4.5 poor mental health days in the last month compared to an average of 3.6 and 3.9 days, respectively, for the state. 

However, the average number of poor mental and physical health days in the last 30 days is higher nationwide, 3.9 days and 4.5 days, respectively, than at the state level.

Beyond Friday’s event, the Literacy Volunteers of Laredo will be hosting the first class of a healthy family education course between July 18 and July 20 at 3 p.m. at the Lamar Bruni Vergara Inner City Public Library.

The organization states there are four items that will be discussed. These include:

•    Energizing families.
•    Maintaining a healthy weight.
•    Family nutrition.
•    Physical activity.

In addition to the discussion items, Familias Saludables’ course will also provide information and education on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. This SNAP-ED is an effort to help participants improve their diets and physical activity. 

According to the Food and Nutrition Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, SNAP provides nutrition benefits to supplement the food budget of needy families so they can purchase healthy food and move toward self-sufficiency.

“We’re proud to support Texans in providing healthy, nutritious meals for their families,” Texas HHS Access and Eligibility Services Deputy Executive Commissioner Wayne Salter said. “With these benefits, not only can families buy food at the grocery store and farmers market but also buy seeds to grow their own food throughout the summer.”