News and information from the National Physical Activity Plan 11/2012

IOM Report on Obesity Places Physical Activity at Top of List

On May 8, 2012, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released “Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention: Solving the Weight of the Nation,” in conjunction with the CDC’s Weight of the Nation Conference in Washington, D.C. In that report, IOM presents five key recommendations for combatting obesity, with physical activity topping the list.

In the report, the IOM recommends that we “Integrate physical activity every day in every way,” and provides four subsequent strategies, each of which align with recommendations found in the National Physical Activity Plan.

The IOM points out that the obesity problem is not one which individuals can solve on their own; rather it is deep routed in many facets of life. Consistent with the National Physical Activity Plan’s design to enact change through integrated efforts across 8 societal sectors, the IOM states that “Solving this complex problem requires a comprehensive set of solutions that work together to spur across-the-board societal change.”

Award Winning Programs Increase Physical Activity in Schools

The Education Sector of the National Physical Activity Plan provides the roadmap for how schools can help to increase population levels of physical activity. Eleven schools were recently recognized for their innovative programs aimed at increasing children’s physical activity. The Active Schools Acceleration Project (ASAP), an initiative of ChildObesity180, selected the schools from a pool of over 500 schools that entered ASAP’s Innovation Competition.

The competition distinguished two categories, school programs and technology innovations, identifying and rewarding the most creative, impactful, and scalable programs that promote high quality promote physical activity. One school created a daily, 15-minute fitness program integrating dance, yoga, and cardio moves. Students will complete this program in the morning, aiming to increase brain activity early on. “The school environment is the perfect place for children to incorporate physical activity…this will reduce the risk for chronic disease later and life and is vital to improving childhood health.”

Nine regional “school program” winners were awarded $25,000 to advance their programs, while two additional schools received the $50,000 “technology innovation” prize. The national and grand prize winners will work with Tufts University staff and ChildObesity180 to participate in a pilot study to expand their programs and technologies to more schools in need of intervention.

Cartoon Network Gets Kids off the Couch

Leading the way in what may become a trend among TV networks, the Cartoon Network is encouraging youth to get up off the couch and get active through their Move It Movement Tour.

June 10th marked the kick off of the third annual Move It Movement Tour, which began in Atlanta and will travel across the country to 17 markets, including areas most affected by health. Cartoon Network launched the Move It Movement in 2009, partnering with the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition and in support of First Lady Michele Obama’s Let’s Move! Initiative, two organizations closely affiliated with the National Physical Activity Plan.

The idea behind the Move It Movement Tour is promote a general awareness of health and wellness to youth and get them moving during the summer months when they are not in school. At each tour stop there will be a diverse selection of on-site activity stations such as a soccer shoot out challenge, a basketball shoot out sponsored by the NBA & WNBA, a PGA-sponsored driving range, NFL/PLAY 60- sponsored football activities, and Crayola outdoor art stations.

New International Resource for Physical Activity Practitioners and Researchers

The International Society for Physical Activity and Health (ISPAH) recently launched The Global Physical Activity Network, a physical activity communication network reporting on the latest developments from around the world. GlobalPANet is designed to share research and connect physical activity practitioners, scientists, policy makers and advocates from around the globe.

A free subscription to GlobalPANet gives access to research articles and policy documents, information about upcoming meetings and conferences, information about employment opportunities, and key people and networks in physical activity across the world.

Kaiser Permanente Plays Key Role in Physical Activity Promotion

Health care giant Kaiser Permanente recognizes the health and cost benefits of an active lifestyle, and has committed substantial resources to promoting physical activity at local and national levels.

This year Kaiser Permanente awarded $6.5 million in grants to programs like Operation Splash, where physical activity is facilitated by teaching families swim lessons. This program will benefit low income families in California, where there are increased health disparities and a great need for safe physical activity programs and center. Other programs include, a Trails Challenge and City Youth Marathon.

In addition, Kaiser Permanente co-sponsored The Weight of the Nation – a four part HBO documentary on the nation’s increasing health epidemic. Like the National Physical Activity Plan (NPAP), it is clear the Kaiser Permanente has an interest in increasing access to physical activity and promoting health.

Active Living Research Makes Finding Evidence on Physical Activity Easier

Active Living Reearch (ALR), a program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, has redesigned its website with the very simple goal of making it easier to find the evidence you need to inform your work. The newly unveiled website provides a wealth of peer-reviewed research and fast facts on environmental and policy strategies that can help increase physical activity among children and parents in the U.S., and reverse the nation’s obesity epidemic.

The site is designed to provide resources to groups and individuals that are transforming communities across the nation to make it easier to be active. There are resources specifically designed with the needs of advocates, practitioners and policy-makers in mind. Additionally, there are info-graphics that provide a quick visual representation of the research in a particular area, for example physical activity in schools, active transportation and children and nature.

A blog, entitled MOVE!, features information on new developments, research, and opinions in this multi-disciplinary field of active living and include topics directly related to the efforts of the U.S National Physical Activity Plan, such as what schools are doing to support physical activity, how state and local policies can encourage active transportation, health impact assessments, and what street-scale improvements will allow all residents to be active.

Changing our environments so that being active is the easy, logical, and appealing choice requires providing evidence that informs the decision-making process and it also requires action at all levels. Join the conversation on active living by following ALR on Facebook and Twitter.

American Public Health Association Recognizes Importance of Physical Activity

The American Public Health Association (APHA), the oldest and most diverse public health organization in the world, will soon recognized physical activity as an official section, giving physical activity a permanent place in the APHA.

Joining 27 other primary sections, the physical activity section will allow physical activity and public health professionals to with opportunities to come together to develop scientific program content, policy papers, networking, and career development.

The announcement from APHA is an important step forward in elevating the importance of physical activity in discussions about the public’s health.

Supreme Court Ruling is a Victory for Prevention Efforts

By Laurie Whitsel, President

National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity

The recent historic ruling by the Supreme Court, largely upholding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), provides a significant opportunity to prioritize prevention, health, and wellness within the US healthcare system and is a chance for those of us working in public policy to continue to position physical activity and physical fitness within the work of the federal government, health care plans, the healthcare environment, and in communities. The National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity is making this our priority.

There are several areas where we can focus our efforts as the ACA is implemented. First, we have to continue to advocate for preservation of the Prevention and Public Health Fund that provides an expanded and sustained national investment in prevention and public health.

Also, under ACA, employers will have the opportunity to hold employees accountable for health outcomes (including physical fitness) in conjunction with worksite wellness programs and vary health care premiums or deductibles by up to 30% if employees don’t meet these outcomes. Recent surveys show that employers are moving in this direction to control their health care costs and improve the health and well-being of their employees. The business and industry sector team under NCPPA’s work on the National Physical Activity Plan has been very attuned to this public policy debate and will continue to disseminate important guidance to employers and others in the field about what constitutes an evidence-based, reasonably designed worksite wellness program and alternative standards for those employees with preexisting conditions or other issues that make it difficult for them to meet the health outcomes. In coordination with this work, the NCPPA will be re-launching in September, the CEO pledge, an opportunity for corporate leaders to commit to providing  physical activity opportunities before, during, and after the work day for their employees, and to being physically active themselves.

Recently, key members of NCPPA coordinated efforts to submit comments to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in response to their Stage 2 Meaningful Use proposed rule. The Electronic Health Records Incentive program provides financial incentives to providers and hospitals that demonstrate they are “meaningful users” of electronic health records (EHRs). The program is structured in a series of stages intended to encourage adoption and increased use of more sophisticated EHR functionalities over time.

As part of our comments, we proposed that questions about an individual’s physical activity status should be added to the Stage 2 requirements.  To support this request, we cited experiences by Kaiser Permanente that found physicians are more likely to counsel patients about their physical activity status and feel more confident in these conversations when they have prompts in an electronic system to do so. We will continue to work with CMS in this area to assure that the questions are added during the Stage 2 or Stage 3 implementation.

The ACA places a great emphasis on prevention, assuring primary prevention coverage within health care plans for Level A and B preventive services recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Recently, the US Preventive Services Task Force gave a B recommendation to screening adults for obesity, stating that clinicians should offer or refer patients with a body mass index of 30 kg/m2 or higher to intensive, multicomponent behavioral interventions.  We need to position physical activity counseling as an important potential covered benefit within these interventions.

Our work on ACA and other federal policy will continue as we communicate with the agencies, Congress, and the administration. Obviously, we will have to make adjustments based on the outcome of the November election. In the meantime, we will roll up our sleeves and do what’s necessary to strengthen prevention efforts and promote the importance of regular physical activity and physical fitness for the US population.

Talking the Walk

The health benefits of walking are well documented, and the National Physical Activity Plan includes numerous strategies and tactics aimed at improving access to walking.

If either you or your organization is working to build support for walking, locally, state-wide, or nationally, there are some valuable resources to help support your efforts.

Humor can be a wonderful ice breaker, and a new video from the comedy website Funny or Die may be the best way for you to introduce the importance of walking.  Produced in conjunction with Everybody Walk!, the video is a spoof from the hit TV show The West Wing, delivering a serious message with sense of humor.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recognizes the importance of walking, and will soon add walking to its list of critical public health vital signs, which includes Drinking and Driving, HIV Testing, and Smoking, among others.  On September 7, 2012, the CDC will release a report  discussing the prevalence of walking, in addition to releasing a series of tools designed to help others rally support for walking.

Oliver Bartzsch is an experienced medical professional with over 15 years of professional experience. With a passion for medicine, fitness, and personal growth, he is always willing to challenge himself to accomplish tasks and especially to provide accurate medical information to people. Oliver is a long-time medical editor for multiple sites. With more than 10 years of medical writing experience, he has completed over 350 projects with both individual and corporate clients.


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