Poll: Majority of Minnesotans Say They Encounter Barriers to a Healthier Lifestyle

“Pulling Together Minnesota,” a new campaign from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, aims to expand conversations about health and highlight the role of our communities.

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Infographic showing Minnesotans top obstacles to healthier living

Barriers to a Healthier Minnesota

“This new campaign is intended to ignite a conversation about how our surroundings impact our health." Janelle Waldock, director of the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota

Eagan, Minnesota (PRWEB) May 20, 2014

While most Minnesotans believe that being healthy comes down to personal decisions and willpower, they also acknowledge that there are significant obstacles getting in their way. “Pulling Together Minnesota,” a new campaign from the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (Blue Cross), aims to build awareness of this issue and illustrate how our surroundings – the places where we live, work and play – impact our health.

In a recent poll commissioned by Blue Cross, 91 percent of Minnesotans said healthy choices are the sole responsibility of individuals. But when asked what makes it difficult for them to live a healthy lifestyle, many identified barriers in their environment. In fact, more than half of Minnesotans polled said the following obstacles exist in their communities:

  •     Not being able to walk to work or school (58 percent)
  •     Limited sidewalks and trails where they live (57 percent)
  •     Not being able to bike to work or school (57 percent)
  •     Difficultly getting to stores with affordable fresh fruits and vegetables (55 percent)
  •     Not feeling safe biking where they live (52 percent)

“The results of our poll underscore how much a person’s surroundings can influence the choices they make and ultimately impact their health,” said Janelle Waldock, director of the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. “We need to expand the way we think about health and change the perception that individual willpower and motivation are the only factors at play, because in some communities, the healthy option isn’t even available.”

The lack of safe places for walking and biking, as well as limited access to fresh produce, may explain why nearly one-third (29 percent) of Minnesotans gave their community a grade of “C” or lower when asked about resources that support healthy choices. Respondents also cited a lack of time and money, the convenience of fast food, and the habits, traditions and culture of their community as significant barriers.

And, while a reduced prevalence of preventable diseases and the wellbeing of individuals are important benefits of improving health at the community level, Minnesotans cite many other advantages, including:

  •     More time with family (85 percent)
  •     Improved student achievement (79 percent)
  •     More stability (77 percent)
  •     Less poverty (75 percent)
  •     Lower unemployment rates (73 percent)
  •     Less crime (70 percent)
  •     Fewer burdens on those that are already healthy (66 percent)

“Pulling Together Minnesota” campaign aims to expand conversations about health

In an effort to expand conversations about health and highlight the vital role our communities play, the Center for Prevention has launched “Pulling Together Minnesota.” This new statewide campaign illustrates real barriers that many Minnesotans face and demonstrates how we can pull together to make healthy options more available. It also highlights real stories of Minnesotans who are advocating for changes in their communities – and working with others to make them a reality.

“We know that the most successful and sustainable changes occur when community members work together to make them happen,” shared Waldock. “This new campaign is intended to ignite a conversation about how our surroundings impact our health – and celebrate some important initiatives that are already underway. We recognize that this is a very different way of thinking about health but hope Minnesotans will find it empowering and be inspired by what they see.”

The “Pulling Together Minnesota” campaign includes television, radio, outdoor and online advertising, as well as a presence on social media and at community-based events. People are encouraged to visit PullingTogetherMN.com to learn more about the campaign, see real stories of Minnesotans pulling together and learn how they can get involved.

About the poll
Public opinion polling was commissioned by the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. It was conducted by telephone by GfK in February 2014, and consisted of 504 respondents in Minnesota and 1,004 respondents in the U.S., ages 18 and older. The margin of error is +/-3 percentage points for the full sample.

About the Center for Prevention
The Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota delivers on Blue Cross’ long-term commitment to improve the health of all Minnesotans by tackling the leading root causes of preventable disease: tobacco use, lack of physical activity and unhealthy eating. Funded through proceeds from Blue Cross’ historic lawsuit against the tobacco industry, we collaborate with organizations statewide to increase health equity, transform communities and create a healthier state. Visit CenterforPreventionMN.com for more information.

About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (bluecrossmn.com), with headquarters in the St. Paul suburb of Eagan, was chartered in 1933 as Minnesota’s first health plan and continues to carry out its charter mission today as a health company: to promote a wider, more economical and timely availability of health services for the people of Minnesota. Blue Cross is a not-for-profit, taxable organization. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, headquartered in Chicago.

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