Archive for April 2009

Looking ahead

Thanks to the hard work of public health professionals across the nation, National Public Health Week (NPHW) 2009 was a great success.

Along with events held in hundreds of communities across the nation, NPHW also saw the launch of the new Healthiest Nation in One Generation viral video campaign. So far, more than 20,000 people have viewed the video online and thousands more have seen it at meetings, conferences and other events. Keep spreading the word!

And even though NPHW 2009 has come and gone, our work is far from over. In the months ahead, APHA will work to build on the momentum of all the individuals and communities who have committed to making America the healthiest nation in one generation.

Along with expanding the Healthiest Nation in One Generation campaign, this means supporting and working with other organizations that are committed to the same goal. One great example is the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission to Build a Healthier America.

Like APHA, the Commission believes that there is more to good health than health care. To this end, the Commission recently issued 10 recommendations that identify how to help Americans lead healthy lives. The recommendations – which focus on how and where people live, learn, work and play – call on each of us to take responsibility for our health and for leadership to promote greater opportunities for every one of us to live healthy and productive lives. Visit to learn more.

With all of us committed to the same goal, we’re on the right path to making America the healthiest nation in one generation.

Home, sweet home

Today, as National Public Health Weeks draws to an end, we’re focusing on public health in the home. By this we mean not just the healthiness of the homes themselves and the food, water and other items contained within, but also the healthiness of the family that lives there.

This is a logical place to end the 2009 observance of National Public Health Week. which aimed to raise awareness of the importance of public health in the current health reform discussion.

Although it is an essential part of the picture, health is so much more than just access to care, which is most frequently discussed. It’s federal funding that provides for public health programs across the nation, it’s communities that are built in a way the supports physical activity, it’s workplaces that provide resources to help employees become tobacco-free, it’s schools that offer healthy food choices and it’s families that support each other in living and adopting healthy behaviors.

To keep our nation’s families healthy, we must work to ensure that public health continues to be able to support them through the lifespan. And our nation’s families have to keep up their end of the bargain too. They have to work to live a healthy lifestyle and set an example for the children that could help us become the healthiest nation in one generation.

Public health will do its part. What will you do?

School’s in session

Today’s lesson: How we can improve the health of our children through schools?

As we all know, the majority of the children and adolescents in our nation spend a large proportion of their time at school. So, as it makes sense to work to help adults make healthy choices in the workplace, it is equally effective to target children through schools.

Public health professionals have made great strides in raising awareness of the importance of getting unhealthy vending machines out of schools and replacing them with healthy options. They’ve also done a good job making the case that children need opportunities to be physically active, both to be healthier and to learn.

But it’s not enough. Too many schools continue to sell high calorie foods because they need the additional revenue to cover budget shortfalls. Too many schools continue to cut physical education classes because they need the time to prepare for tested subjects. Too many schools continue to be built in areas that are only accessible by car or bus, making it impossible for students to walk or bike to school.

This has to change. We must continue to help parents understand that healthy schools are essential to raising healthy children. And we have to let our legislators know that true health reform will require an investment in programs that create schools that support healthy behaviors.

If we can keep our children healthy and nurture the positive behaviors that will help them grow into healthy adults, we will be well on our way to becoming the healthiest nation in one generation.

Working our way to health

Even though it isn’t all that fun to think about it, we can’t escape the reality that most of us will spend a large proportion of our adult life at work. I’ll give you a second to let that sink in…

OK, now that we’ve come to terms with this fact, let’s look at the bright side. Because we spend so much of our lives in our workplaces, they are uniquely positioned to be a significant factor in our health and the health of our nation.

One model that has been continually gaining support is the creation of wellness committees to guide worksite health promotion. These committees advocate for healthier food options in the company cafeteria, set up discounted gym memberships for employees, offer workshops on stress reduction and much more. They work to ensure that the workplace helps workers become healthier, rather than serves as a barrier.

As we think about health reform and the role that public health must play if we are truly going to improve health, workplace health promotion needs to be a part of the solution. Whether it involves incorporating prevention and wellness activities into workplace culture, opening up stairwells and making them more pleasant so people will use the stairs more, or insurers lowering premiums for organizations who implement worksite wellness policies, workplace health has to be a part of a holistic approach to health in this nation.

Share your worksite wellness ideas. What has your workplace done to support the health of its employees?

You are where you live

Our roads. Our air. Our food options. Our water. Our sidewalks. Our local laws. Our transportation options. Our schools. Our access to health services. Our social support.

Each of these elements within our communities — or sometimes the lack thereof — plays a significant role in whether or not we’re able to eat healthy, be physically active, breathe freely or get preventive care. They help determine whether or not we’re healthy.

On the second day of National Public Health Week, as we focus on the role that where we lives plays on our health, it’s a good time to think about how we get the word out. How do we make sure that people understand that simply providing health insurance to all Americans isn’t enough to make us healthy? How do get our family, our neighbors, OUR COMMUNITY, to demand that we invest in ensuring that the places we live are supportive of our health?

The Healthiest Nation in One Generation video makes the case and one way to get the word out is to make sure as many people as possible have a chance to see it.

Another great opportunity is to contact your legislators. Make sure they know that their constituents want to ensure that public health is the foundation of health reform.

What other ideas do you have for helping our communities understand that health involves more than just individual behaviors and health care?

You’re invited to be a part of the Healthiest Nation in One Generation

National Public Health begins today with the launch of a new video campaign entitled the Healthiest Nation in One Generation. We're hoping to make this video viral, so we need your help to spread the word.

This campaign is important because, let’s face it – as a nation we’re not nearly as healthy as we should be. Compared to other developed nations, we’re lagging far behind.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. With your help, we can make America the healthiest nation in just one generation. By focusing on public health we can turn things around and start moving toward a healthy tomorrow.

The video follows a child through his life and tells the story of how public health is there each step of the way. Want to know more?

Watch the video today and visit to learn more.

Help us reach our goal of 100,000 views by the end of this week to celebrate National Public Health Week! Share the video with your friends and family and encourage them to get involved.

America can make this the healthiest nation in one generation. We all have to do our part. What will you do?

Just around the corner

After months of preparation and hard work, National Public Health Week is finally upon us!

This year’s observance (April 6-12) kicks off Monday with the launch of an exciting, new viral video campaign. The video tells the story of the many ways that public health touches our lives and makes the case that through public health we can become the healthiest nation in one generation. Check back Monday for a first look!

In anticipation of NPHW, this week APHA released its Agenda for Health Reform. The document highlights the most critical changes we must make to improve the public’s health, based on long-standing APHA policies, as well as the best current evidence. Check it out today and let us know what you link!

Along with events at the national level, NPHW events are happening all around the nation. From Boston to Topeka, public health professionals are using this week as an opportunity to support public health in our nation. Click here to find out what’s happening in your community.

We hope you’ll join us next week and from here on out as we work to build the foundation for a healthy America.