Can We Reach Our Health Potential?

Janice Simmons, for HealthLeaders Media , August 5, 2010

So, what needs to go on outside the medical system to help improve healthcare in the future? The experts make a number of suggestions, based on the work of the commission, to promote a national culture of health which include:

  • Designing public programs that support the needs of hungry families for nutritious foods.
  • Eliminating smoking and promoting a smoke-free nation.
  • Giving children, especially those from low-income families, a healthy start by ensuring that they have high-quality education and child care.
  • Getting children to be physically active at least an hour every day.    
  • Banning junk food from schools.

As the commentators note, new inroads are being made in some of these areas. For instance, at the federal level, new cooperative health efforts are being undertaken—such as seen with a recent announcement by the Department of Health and Human Services of a $650 million community prevention and wellness initiative to promote more physical activity, better nutrition, and reductions in obesity and smoking.

And, more publicly, the challenge has given rise to First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" campaign, which aims to end the epidemic by increasing understanding of nutrition, encouraging schools to provide healthier food, and promoting physical

So it's a start. While advances in medicine are important, when it comes to population health, it's our actions and choices that will make the biggest difference in the quality of our health lives.

Janice Simmons is a senior editor and Washington, DC, correspondent for HealthLeaders Media Online. She can be reached at

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