CDC Launches Healthiest Nation Campaign-July 2008

The CDC looks to improve the nation's health through more proactive prevention and wellness policies.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has launched a major new campaign aimed at improving health in . The agency’s Healthiest Nation Campaign was announced as part of a 2-day CDC leaders-to-leaders conference—Shaping Policy for a Healthier Nation—held earlier this month in .

The conference brought together >300 leaders from all walks of life, including business, government, education, sports, entertainment, and the nonprofit and faith-based sectors, to explore how policies can be shaped to promote health.

The goals of the conference include:

  • Identify policies and actions that will have the greatest likelihood of improving the health of Americans, along with what it will take to make these policies a reality
  • Generate actionable ideas to encourage Americans to take steps to prevent disease
  • Determine specific mechanisms to continue information sharing and collaboration at the local, state, regional, and national levels

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“Health should be a central consideration in every policy decision we make,” said CDC Director Julie Gerberding, MD, MPH. She noted that many countries put more emphasis on health promotion than here in the , where disease management and prevention programs receive about 5 cents of every dollar spent on health care. The stands at 37th among nations in the World Health Organization’s ranking of the world’s health systems.

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“It’s basically about changing the conversation,” Dr. Gerberding said in a July 7 interview with . “People are talking about health care reform, but they’re not really talking about health.” She would like to see greater emphasis on prevention before people even get to the doctor’s office. This would include such areas as expanding transportation options through bicycle lanes and sidewalks and making school lunches more nutritious.

The CDC notes that policymaking at all levels has the potential to affect health. For example, regional and individual business policies on transportation and telecommuting affect our health by influencing how much sedentary time we spend in our vehicles, the stress we experience from the commute, and even the quality of the air we breathe.