In this first blog post, I will address the following question:
What role does community nutrition play in improving the nutritional status and health of society?
A community can be defined in many different ways. The Merriam Webster dictionary defines a community as a unified body of individuals. Using this definition, the number of communities that exist just within a single town are endless and can include schools, religious groups, clubs, teams, co-workers, friends and family, and many more.
For the purpose of community nutrition, a community is a group of people who are located in a particular space, have shared values, and interact in a social system (Boyle and Hoben, 2010). With this, a community for nutritional purposes can be as small as a support group at an elementary school for children with cancer and as large as all of the individuals within the United States that suffer from cardiovascular disease. This wide range of communities can present challenges to the community nutritionist that is striving to improve the well-being of the individuals in their specific community; however, it can also open up many doors to explore a group that encompasses a wide-range of individuals that have been brought together to form a community based on a unifying factor.
So, to address the above question, how can the nutrition of all of these separate communities come together and improve the nutritional status and health of an entire society? To begin with, one can think of this in simple terms: if every country in the world is defined as a community, and the entire world together is the society, improving the nutritional status of countries all around the world and not just in the affluent countries would result in a healthier society than if there were extreme nourishment in some locations and severe malnourishment in other regions.
Keeping this in mind, the community nutritionist must individualize the nutritional information to fit the community they are working with. It is important for the community nutritionist to pay close attention to the culture and needs of the particular community so that the nutrition advice can be well received and effective. If nutrition education can be individualized buy the nutritionist, then the individual communities can become to improve the health and nutritional status of their group. Once this begins to spread, improved health and nutritional status in individual communities will result in improved societal nutritional status.