NPHW Day 5: Be the Healthiest Nation in One Generation

April 7-13, 2014 is National Public Health Week. Each day this week we will look at another aspect of public health, courtesy of the NPHW Daily Themes.

Be the Healthiest Nation in One Generation

For the first time in decades, the current generation isn’t as healthy as the one that came before. Communities need to band together to take a stance against this disturbing trend to make sure that children and young adults have bright, healthy futures. Public health professionals can lead the way by helping communities identify the resources and information available to keep everyone healthy and safe.

Did you know?

  • The U.S. spends far more on health care than any other country, with such costs rising tenfold from 1980 to 2010 and expected to rise faster than national income during the foreseeable future. However, investing just $10 per person each year in proven, community-based public health efforts could save the nation more than $16 billion within five years. [1]
  •  By 2020, the direct benefits of the federal Clean Air Act will have reached almost $2 trillion, much more than the $65 billion it will have cost to implement the law. About 85 percent of the $2 trillion is attributable to decreases in premature death and illness related to air pollution. [2]
  • Twenty-three to one: That’s the rate of the return on investment in clean water technologies in the first half of the 20th century. [3]
  • Widening access to care by investing in expanded Medicaid eligibility, which is encouraged and funded via the Affordable Care Act, results in better health outcomes and reductions in mortality, especially among communities already struggling with health problems. [4]
  • The Health Care Innovation Awards are funding up to $1 billion in awards to organizations that implement the most compelling new ideas to deliver better health, improved care and lower costs to people enrolled in Medicare, Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, particularly those with the highest health care needs. [5]

Start Here:

  • APHA promotes “Health in All Policies: A Guide for State and Local Governments.” The guide was created by the American Public Health Association, Public Health Institute and the California Department of Public Health in response to growing interest in using collaborative approaches to improve population health by embedding health considerations into decision-making processes across a broad array of sectors. Share these details and policies with local public health professionals.
  • There are numerous ways that the Affordable Care Act will benefit specific populations such as children and parents, childless adults, the elderly, women, low-income individuals and families, LGBT individuals and families, racial and ethnic minorities and others. The ACA will also benefit small businesses, health care providers, and states. Visit APHA’s website for consumer education resources on the ACA.
  • Visit to learn more about newly available options for health care and enroll in coverage provided under the Affordable Care Act.
  • Promote educational webinars hosted by national organizations such as APHA, CDC, or the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services with your community so that they know where to go for the most up-to-date information on policy changes that impact public health. Host an after-party to help answer any additional questions.
  • Partner with a local university’s public health department to help educate the community on public health options available to them. Learn about innovative project taking place at these institutions and how they could impact your community.

[1] Levi, J. et al, Prevention for a Healthier America: Investments in Disease Prevention Yield Significant Savings, Stronger Communities. Trust for America’s Health. Feb. 2009.

[2] U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Benefits and Costs of the Clean Air Act from 1990 to 2020. March 2011.

[3] Cutler D, Miller G. The role of public health improvements in health advances: The 20th Century United States, 2004. National Bureau of Economic Research.

[4] Sommers B, Baicker K, Epstein A. Mortality and Access to Care Among Adults After State Medicaid Expansions. New England Journal of Medicine 2012; 367 (11), 1025-1034.

[5] Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services,


NPHW Day 4: Eat Well

April 7-13, 2014 is National Public Health Week. Each day this week we will look at another aspect of public health, courtesy of the NPHW Daily Themes.

Eat Well

The system that keeps our nation’s food safe and healthy is complex. There is a lot of information to parse in order to understand food labels and to learn the best practices during a food borne illness outbreak. Public health professionals can help guide people through their choices.

Did you know?

  • The Affordable Care Act extends to food safety and information with new requirements for food labeling. Under the new law, restaurants are required to list the number of calories in each standard menu item, must put the caloric content in context, additional nutritional information must be made available to consumers and the number of calories per serving must be visible on self-service foods. [1]
  • The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010, released on Jan. 31, 2011, emphasizes three major goals for Americans: Balance calories with physical activity to manage weight, consume more of certain foods and nutrients such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free and low-fat dairy products, and seafood, and consume fewer foods with sodium, saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, added sugars and refined grains. [2]
  • The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion is working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other government agencies to revise the dietary guidelines for release in 2015.
  • In total, we are now eating 31 percent more calories than we were 40 years ago — including 56 percent more fats and oils and 14 percent more sugars and sweeteners. The average American now eats 15 more pounds of sugar a year than in 1970. [3]
  • USDA led efforts to pass the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, legislation that paves the way to make real reforms to the school lunch and breakfast programs by improving the critical nutrition and hunger safety net for nearly 32 million children who eat school lunch each day and the 12 million who eat breakfast at school. [4]
  • Food borne contaminants cause an average of 5,000 deaths, 325,000 hospitalizations and 76 million illnesses and cost billions of dollars annually.  The five most common food borne pathogens cost the U.S. economy more than $44 billion each year in medical costs and lost productivity. [5]

Start Here:

  • Host a roundtable event with local chefs or nutrition experts to help the community better understand the meaning of food labels. Work with community leaders to spread information on meal planning and nutritional requirements for people of all ages.
  • Ask local restaurants to provide nutrition information on their menus, as newly required by the ACA’s food labeling law.
  • Sponsor a community wide “meatless Monday” where everyone forgoes meat for one day to help individuals and families learn how to cut back on fats and enjoy adding more fruits and vegetables into their diets. Share recipes and snacks that are plant-based.
  • Support local farmers markets and other access points to fresh fruits and vegetables. It’s not only good for your health; it’s good for the local economy too.
  • Create a local health movement! Start a healthy food co-op, organize a canning circle, gather a walking group or form a club dedicated to volunteering. Visit for more information and resources to encourage healthier activities in your community.
  • Work with local schools to help them educate children on healthy eating habits early. Encourage community members to volunteer to serve healthy lunches and breakfasts to school aged kids.
  • Chilling foods to proper temperatures is one of the best ways to slow the growth of bacteria. An efficient kitchen refrigerator is the most effective tool in protecting families from food-borne illnesses. Make sure refrigerators are kept at 40° F or below; the freezer should be at 0° F. Since few refrigerator controls show actual temperatures, using an inexpensive freestanding appliance thermometer can monitor temperatures to make sure they’re at the right levels for optimal food safety.

[1] Guidance for Industry: Questions and Answers Regarding the Effect of Section 4205 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 on State and Local Menu and Vending Machine Labeling Laws, FDA

[2] Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010

[5] APHA Issue Brief, Creating a Safe Food System for America, 2009,

NPHW Day 3: Get Out Ahead

April 7-13, 2014 is National Public Health Week. Each day this week we will look at another aspect of public health, courtesy of the NPHW Daily Themes.

Get Out Ahead

Prevention is now a nationwide priority, and as the public health system evolves, there are more options than ever when it comes to preventive health measures.  Public health and clinical health professionals must work collaboratively to help individuals identify and pursue the best preventative health options.

Did you know?

  • Today, seven in 10 deaths in the U.S. are related to preventable diseases such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer. Another striking fact is that 75 percent of our health care dollars are spent treating such diseases. However, only 3 percent of our health care dollars go toward prevention. [1]
  • According to recent research, investments such as the Prevention and Public Health Fund have the potential to improve health outcomes and reduce costs. For example, every 10 percent increase in funding for community-based public health programs is estimated to reduce deaths due to preventable causes by 1 to 7 percent, and a $2.9 billion investment in community-based disease prevention programs was estimated to save $16.5 billion annually within five years (in 2004 dollars). [2]
  • CDC estimates that 1,144,500 people ages 13 and older are living with HIV infection, including 180,900, or 15.8 percent, who are unaware of their infection. Over the past decade, the number of people living with HIV has increased, while the annual number of new HIV infections has remained relatively stable. Still, the pace of new infections continues at far too high a level— particularly among certain groups. [3]
  • Average medical expenses are more than twice as high for a person with diabetes as they are for a person without diabetes. In 2007, the estimated cost of diabetes in the United States was $174 billion. That amount included $116 billion in direct medical care costs and $58 billion in indirect costs from disability, productivity loss and premature death. [4]
  • More than half of all cancer deaths could be prevented by making healthy choices such as not smoking, staying at a healthy weight, eating right, keeping active and getting recommended screening tests. [5]
  • Among adults who smoke, 68 percent began smoking regularly at age 18 or younger, and 85 percent started when they were 21 or younger. The average age of daily smoking initiation for new smokers in 2008 was 20.1 years among those ages 12-49. [6]
  • People who begin smoking at an early age are more likely to develop a severe addiction to nicotine than those who start at a later age. Of adolescents who have smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetimes, most report that they would like to quit, but are not able to do so. [7]

Start Here:

  • Inquire about volunteer opportunities at community health centers and with state public health associations.
  • Take part in national health observances, such as National HIV Testing Day, National Youth Violence Prevention Week and National Minority Health Month. APHA will partner with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in May 2014 for National Prevention Month. Share this information with your community so they can participate in events and learn more about prevention and treatment.
  • Diabetes prevention is as basic as eating more healthfully and becoming more physically active. Making simple lifestyle changes may help you avoid the serious health complications of diabetes down the road, such as nerve, kidney and heart damage. Consider the latest diabetes prevention tips from the American Diabetes Association,
  • Reach out to clinical partners and engage them in community health and prevention efforts.
  • Learn about cancer screening guidelines and make sure you, your family, and community are aware of them. Schedule your screenings in advance and visit the American Cancer Society’s website for more information.
  • Set up local support groups to help community members quit smoking.  Provide them with up-to-date resources and information to guide them through the difficult transition.  Share the national lung health hot line 1-800-LUNGUSA  and/or national quit lines 1-800-QUIT-NOW to help the community locate local support resources.
  • Visit schools to educate students on the health risks of smoking. Enlist teachers and school administrators to help spread the word and cut down on the number of young adults who begin smoking.

[1] Public Health and Prevention Fund Fact Sheet, APHA,

[3] HIV in the United States: At A Glance, CDC,

[4] Diabetes Report Card 2012: National and State Profile of Diabetes and Its Complications CDC,

NPHW Day 2: Don’t Panic

April 7-13, 2014 is National Public Health Week. Each day this week we will look at another aspect of public health, courtesy of the NPHW Daily Themes.

Don’t Panic

Public health professionals help communities withstand the impact of a natural or man-made disaster by planning ahead, acting as a source of information during the crisis and helping to mitigate the long- and short-term effects. During NPHW 2014, share tips for disaster preparedness with your community so they can take steps at home to plan ahead for the unexpected. Visit APHA’s Get Ready campaign to learn more and help Americans prepare themselves, their families and their communities for all disasters and hazards, including pandemic flu, infectious disease, natural disasters and other emergencies.

Did you know?

  • Emergency preparedness is not only for Californians, Midwesterners and Gulf Coast residents. Most communities may be affected by several types of hazards during a lifetime. Americans also travel more than ever before to areas with different hazard risks than at home. [1]
  • Every year, thousands of people are affected by severe weather threats, such as tornadoes and severe thunderstorms. Preliminary data for 2012 shows there were more than 450 weather-related fatalities and nearly 2,600 injuries. [2]
  • Each year, more than 2,500 people die and 12,600 are injured in home fires in the United States, with direct property loss due to home fires estimated at $7.3 billion annually. Home fires can be prevented! [3]
  • Oftentimes, we may not realize that our actions online might put us, our families and even our country at risk. Learning about the dangers online and taking action to protect ourselves is the first step in making the Internet a safer place for everyone. Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility and we all have a role to play. [4]
  • Flu seasons are unpredictable and can be severe. Over a period of 30 years, between 1976 and 2006, estimates of flu-associated deaths in the United States range from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people. [5]

Start Here:

  • Gather your household for a night of emergency preparedness: make plans for putting together an emergency stockpile kit, create a crisis communication plan, designate an emergency meeting place and hold household emergency drills.
  • Educate your community about disaster alerts that they can receive on their cell phones from government agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
  • All Americans should have at least a three-day supply of food and water stored in their homes, with at least one gallon of water per person per day and a week’s supply of food that doesn’t require refrigeration. Help your community understand how to develop and maintain an emergency stockpile with resources such as and APHA’s Get Ready.
  • Spread the word about emergency preparedness at your child’s school, your parents’ retirement community and the other places you spend time. Volunteer to help these places assess their readiness and start planning.
  • Promote awareness of how local public health systems keep communities healthy at home, such as keeping our food and water safe. Encourage residents and leaders to take a moment to imagine how dramatically our lives would change if that system disappeared. Let your key decision-makers know that you support public health and prevention.
  • CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older as the first and most important step toward protecting against this serious disease. While there are many different flu viruses, the flu vaccine is designed to protect against the three main flu strains that research indicates will cause the most illness during the flu season. Get the flu vaccine as soon as it becomes available each year – the protection you get from vaccination will last throughout the flu season.

[1] Be Informed, FEMA Factsheet,

[2] Severe Weather Factsheet, FEMA,

[3] Fires Factsheet, FEMA,

[4] Cyber Attack Factsheet, FEMA,

[5] Key Facts about Influenza (Flu) & Flu Vaccine, CDC,

NPHW Day 1: Be Healthy From the Start

April 7-13, 2014 is National Public Health Week. Each day this week we will look at another aspect of public health, courtesy of the NPHW Daily Themes.

Be Healthy From the Start

Public health starts at home. From family nutrition and maternal health to safety precautions and disaster preparedness, the first step the community takes toward public health are in the comfort of their own home. Empower your community to take action at home through better meal planning, conducting safety upgrades and preparing for emergencies.

Did you know?

  • Breastfeeding is recommended for at least the first year of a child’s life, and exclusively for the first 6 months. Longer lifetime durations of breastfeeding are associated with decreased risks of maternal breast cancer, ovarian cancer, Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. In addition, longer durations of breastfeeding are associated with decreased risk of many common childhood infections and sudden infant death syndrome, as well as chronic conditions in offspring such as obesity, Type 1 diabetes, and leukemia. [1]
  • Prenatal care can help keep mothers and their babies healthy. Babies of mothers who do not get prenatal care are three times more likely to have a low birth weight and five times more likely to die than those born to mothers who do get care. [2]
  • Globally, an estimated 43 million preschool children were overweight or obese in 2010, a 60 percent increase since 1990. And children’s early-life experiences, such as lack of breast feeding, too-little sleep and too-much television can increase the risk of obesity later in life. That’s why early child care providers have such a crucial role to play in turning around the obesity epidemic. [3]
  • Nearly one-third of all students in the United States do not graduate from high school on time. It’s a destructive cycle: Students who don’t graduate face lifelong health risks and high medical costs, and they are more likely to engage in risky health behaviors. They are less likely to be employed and insured, and they earn less — all of which continues the cycle of poverty and disparities. [4]

Start Here:

  • The most effective way to encourage breastfeeding among soon-to-be or new mothers is education. Encourage growing families in your community to attend educational seminars on breastfeeding that outline best practices and benefits.
  • Share resources such as informational videos and websites with new mothers on breastfeeding. For example: or
  • Work with local businesses to set up breastfeeding centers for their employees.
  • Start a support group for new mothers to share their experiences and create a sense of community. Public health professionals can help answer questions or provide resources for breastfeeding, prenatal health and other topics related to family health.
  • Child care providers are in a unique position to initiate healthy eating and exercise habits among young children and encourage similar behavior at home. Create an information-sharing group with local child care facilities and schools to distribute information on healthy eating for young children.
  • Create local events in your community for families that focus on healthy eating and nutrition. Invite families to share healthy recipes or talk about ways to make household favorites more nutritious.
  • School-based health centers provide excellent, accessible health care and information for students across the country.  The next step in helping local students is working to reduce dropout rates. Collaborate across  schools and their surrounding communities to bolster educational success. [5]
  • Work with local schools and community centers to develop after-school programs to help at-risk students with homework. Partner with a local university to identify volunteers to serve as tutors or mentors to students. Share tips and insights from national reports such as Building a Grad Nation:

[1] APHA Endorses the Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding,

[4] APHA Center for School, Health and Education,