HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt today announced that the Department will develop comprehensive guidelines, drawn from science, to help Americans fit physical activity into their lives.

The announcement was made during his keynote address on the state of the nation's health, during the Innovation in Prevention Awards Ceremony at the National Prevention Summit, an annual HHS-supported event that highlights successful initiatives in disease prevention and health promotion.

"Physical activity is vital to promote and maintain health, but it's easy for many of us to overlook," Secretary Leavitt said. "The physical activity guidelines will underscore the importance of physical activity to America's health and assist on the journey to a healthier life. Good health -- wellness -- doesn't just happen. Wellness has to be a habit."

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans will be issued in late 2008. The Physical Activity Guidelines will summarize the latest knowledge about activity and health, with depth and flexibility targeting specific population subgroups, such as seniors and children. This is inspired by the President's personal dedication to physical fitness and his desire that every American have access to science based guidelines.

Secretary Leavitt underscored the importance of shifting from a treatment-focused society to one that values prevention-based care. Treatment for chronic diseases accounts for 75 percent of what America spends on health care each year, and overweight and obesity affects an estimated 66 million individuals. Emphasis on the four pillars of the HealthierUS initiative -- physical activity, good diet, healthy choices and preventive screening -- is crucial for the nation's health.

"Changing the culture from one of treating sickness to staying healthy calls for small steps and good choices to be made each and every day," Secretary Leavitt said. "These physical activity guidelines will encourage the creation of a culture of wellness across America."

The President's proposed FY 2007 budget for the federal health department calls for $640 million on obesity-related efforts, which will fund a range of activities from research into obesity to regulating the labeling of trans fats.

During the National Prevention Summit, nine organizations and businesses that have implemented creative health promotion and chronic disease prevention programs were honored as national innovation in prevention award winners.

Innovation in Prevention 2006 Awardees:

Awards Category: Healthy Workforce, Large Employer (500 or more employees)

Awardee: Perdue Farms, Inc., Salisbury, Md.

Project Title: Health Improvement Program
The Perdue Health Improvement Program is an innovative project that recognizes the company benefits of individual employee health. The program works to ensure that employees have on site access to health care and preventive health services through the company. By allowing employees to voluntarily enroll in the program and be measured and monitored for 20 different health risk factors, Perdue is lowering the health-related time their employees take off, decreasing employee turnover rates, and ensuring employees are happier in their jobs. The employees can receive information and screening for blood pressure, height and weight concerns, total cholesterol and LDL, and tobacco cessation counseling among other services.

Awards Category: Healthy Workforce, Large Employer (500 or more employees)
Awardee: Washoe County School District, Reno, Nev.

Project Title: Wellness Program
The WCSD Wellness Program of Reno, Nevada is an inventive series of programs that promote healthier living and wellbeing. Washoe County School District works to keep the program focused on encouraging a healthier lifestyle among employees in hopes that this will create better role models for students while driving down healthcare costs. All members and spouses of the district's health plan have a $40 per month contribution to the Wellness Program. This contribution can be reduced to zero by engaging in healthy actions each year such as those related to achieving ideal blood pressure, decreasing tobacco use, and maintaining a healthy body mass index. Since 2001, participants were found to be among those employees with the lowest healthcare cost. A 7 percent reduction in claims as well as fewer overall claims among participants indicates that the program is effective.

Awards Category: Healthy Workforce, Small Employer (Less than 500 employees)
Awardee: Hudson River Healthcare, Inc., Peekskill, N.Y.

Project Title: Step up for Wellness
Step Up for Wellness is a program open to employees of 13 federally qualified health centers collectively called Hudson River HealthCare (HRHCare). The program was created in 2004 to encourage employees to make choices to improve their health by increasing knowledge about basic health and lifestyle decisions. The program begins by employees receiving a coach, a pedometer, and a 12-week tracking booklet to chart their earned points from participating in wellness activities. Point earning activities range from quitting smoking, joining a walking club, lowering blood pressure, and attending workshops on stress management, yoga and healthy eating demonstrations. In the first year alone, participants earned 6300 activity points, lost 531 pounds, and four persons quit smoking. In addition, there was a marked improvement in employee morale.

Awards Category: Faith-Based and Community Initiative
Awardee: Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services
Wheaton, Md.

Project Title: Glorifying Our Spiritual & Physical Existence for Life (G.O.S.P.E.L)
The G.O.S.P.E.L is a church-based prevention-oriented series of wellness programs targeting the African American community. Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services worked with the Black Ministers Conference of Montgomery County to establish G.O.S.P.E.L. G.O.S.P.E.L. weekly meetings are held on a variety of health topics including prescription drugs, food portions, blood pressure, smoking and diabetes.

Awards Category: Public Sector
Awardee: University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health, Michael and Susan Dell Center for the Advancement of Healthy Living, Houston, Texas

Project Title: CATCH
CATCH, managed by the University of Texas School of Public Health, has been labeled a breakthrough elementary school obesity prevention and child health program. It seeks to improve health and wellness practices in schools by increasing physical activity and teaching healthy dietary practices. CATCH is comprised of four components: Go For Health and Hearty Heart Classroom Curriculum; CATCH Physical Education; Eat Smart School Nutrition Guide; and family Home Team activities. Together, these four parts create a holistic approach to developing healthy lifestyles for children from kindergarten through fifth grade. To ensure the program is implemented in schools correctly, CATCH professional staff provides schools with on-going technical assistance to ensure success. The program is active in 1,911 Texas schools, reaching about 900,000 school children.

Awards Category: Public Sector
Awardee: Hawaii State Department of Health, Honolulu, Hawaii

Project Title: Healthy Hawaii Initiative Tobacco Settlement Project The Healthy Hawaii Initiative is a statewide program to improve health across the state. The Initiative works to reduce obesity, increase physical activity and improve nutrition for all people of Hawaii as well as remove the disparities in health among ethic groups in Hawaii. The initiative focuses on school- and community-based programs and public and professional education to promote healthy lifestyle changes. As a result of the initiative, leisure time activities not involving physical activity decreased from 25.5 percent in 1999 to 18.3 percent in 2003. Positive results, such as a decrease of 0.2 percent in the number of obese and overweight adults, with the rest of the United States increasing by 3.0 percent, show that the Healthy Hawaii Initiative is effective.

Awards Category: Health Care Delivery System
Awardee: Rochester General Hospital, Rochester, NY

Project Title: Clinton Family Health Center
The Clinton Family Health Center is a community health center devoted to providing innovative prevention health care to Rochester residents. The Clinton Family Health Center in conjunction with Rochester General Hospital works to ensure that medically underserved Rochester citizens in need of health care can expect high quality services that are unequaled in Western New York. Program initiatives include open access and group medical appointments, with a focus on prevention. Open access, which allows patients requesting care to get a same-day appointment, has shown positive results with a 45 percent increase in "show rates" and a 30 percent decrease in the number of patients going to the emergency room for non-urgent care. Group medical appointments, which include a one- to two-hour session with the medical provider and a group of patients to discuss chronic medical conditions such as asthma or diabetes, have been shown to be superior to individual office visits in this innovative program.

Awards Category: Non-Profit
Awardee: The OASIS Institute, St. Louis, Mo.

Project Title: Active Start
The OASIS Institute's Active Start program seeks to increase physical activity levels among sedentary older adults through neighborhood senior centers. The program is funded through HHS' Administration on Aging and began in Los Angeles in partnership with the City of Los Angeles Department of Aging, and has since expanded it to St. Louis and Indianapolis. The OASIS Institute works to make sure Active Start succeeds in its goal of improving physical activity levels among sedentary older adults by offering classes in neighborhood senior centers and community organizations. The program trains senior center staff and older adult volunteers to run the classes at the centers. This provides a setting in which participants have the support of their peers while they engage in exercise. Active Start participants have increased their weekly minutes of physical activity and shown overall improvements in mental and physical wellness.

Awards Category: Schools (K-12)
Awardee: Alhambra United School District, Alhambra, Calif.

Project Title: Alhambra United School District Nutrition Network The Alhambra United School District Nutrition Network program educates all students in the school district on healthy lifestyle choices. The Nutrition Network is a comprehensive system that shares nutrition information with students by interactive learning, classroom instruction, cooking, increased physical activity, and developing strategies to overcome barriers to a healthy diet. The school district has achieved positive behavioral changes in its students' lifestyle choices. Now, during classroom parties, or even at home, the children ask their parents for fruits and vegetables more often than ever before.


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