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Think Beyond the Present


In recent years, we are experiencing irreversible demographic shifts. The first shift relates to the significant increase in the various racial and ethnic groups within the United States.  Although the Hispanic or Latino population has slowed, the Hispanic or Latino population has reached a high of 55 million, which is 17.4% of the U.S. population. According to the U.S. Census projections, by 2044 more than half of Americans will belong to a racial and ethnic group. Additionally, the U.S. Census also reports that by 2060, nearly one in five of the U.S. population is projected to be foreign born. The second demographic shift relates to age. According to Pew Research Center, the millennial generation (ages 18 to 34) projected at 75.3 million are estimated to surpass the baby boomer generation (ages 51 to 69) projected 74.9 million this year and will continue to grow into the future.

Overall, our nation is becoming more diverse. These demographic shifts illustrate that our nation is diversifying and that the majority of our children and youth are representative of communities of color. Therefore, it is imperative that our advocacy efforts are reflective of these future demographics.

We must keep these demographic projections in mind as we engage, organize and mobilize advocates to improve their communities to ensure all children can attain a healthy weight. Despite the growing diversity, we continue to see persistent disparities in several health indicators including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, hypertension, and other chronic diseases. According to the 2015 State of Obesity Report, 20.2% of Black, 22.4% of Latino, and 14.3% of White children are obese. Additionally, we see high rates of childhood obesity in tribal communities where rates often exceed 50%.

As we launch or continue our advocacy campaigns, we must consider the demographic shifts in our nation. These data along with the persistent health disparities provides the justification on why our work is crucial to the future of our children. In addition, these data should drive our campaign activities and events as it relates to coalition building, engagement, decision maker advocacy, media advocacy, and grassroots and grasstops engagement. Take the time to assess your coalitions and current efforts. Is it reflective of your respective community or demographic projections? Are coalition communications uplifting authentic voices or engaging minority media outlets? What steps are you taking to nurture your grassroots relationships? These examples propel us to assess our efforts consistently and ensure we are building an inclusive movement for the future. Health equity requires advocates to be rooted in facts. One irreversible fact we cannot ignore is the growing diversity of our nation. However, one truth that can be reversed overtime are persistent racial and ethnic health disparities. These statistics paired with projected demographic shifts illustrate the need to create policy systems change that can eliminate persistent disparities in communities of color and low income communities. Think outside the scope of 2015. Be a part of systemic change that will create access, choice, and opportunity for our children.