What They Are Saying

Statements of Support for Lots to Lose: How America’s Health and Obesity Crisis Threatens our Economic Future

“Our nation’s obesity crisis is not just a health issue, but it is directly tied to our nation’s fiscal crisis. Obesity and other preventable physical conditions contribute greatly to rising health care costs in the United States, which are the largest driver of our spiraling national debt. In its new report, the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Nutrition and Physical Activity Initiative gives specific examples of how Americans can achieve better health, scale back obesity and put the nation back on an improved physical and fiscal track. We commend Secretaries Glickman, Leavitt, Shalala and Veneman for leading this effort.”

-- Former U.S. Senate Budget Committee Chair Pete Domenici and former White House Budget Director Alice Rivlin, co-chairs of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Debt Reduction Task Force

“Physical unfitness among our nation’s youth has emerged as a significant and growing national security concern. Fewer and fewer young Americans can meet the basic fitness standards necessary to serve in uniform, owing largely to obesity. Moreover, health care costs for U.S. military personnel are rising at twice the rate as the cost of health care to the nation at large. This is a troubling phenomenon in fiscally austere times when scarce resources are needed to modernize our national security sector. The Bipartisan Policy Center report casts a needed spotlight on these pressing issues. Clearly, responsible policies and programs that enhance physical fitness and promote cost-effective health maintenance in our country, including among our active and reserve service members, are necessary to enhance U.S. military readiness and the nation’s security.”

-- General Jim L. Jones, BPC Senior Fellow, Former National Security Advisory & Supreme Allied Commander Europe

“In order to improve the health of Americans and control rising health care costs, workplace health promotion initiatives need to be a core component of reform. To be successful, health promotion proponents must assume a non-partisan stance, recognizing the compromises necessary to reconcile competing forces -- government regulations and the free market. The Bipartisan Policy Center’s recommendations, if implemented, will improve the health and productivity of U.S. workers.”

-- Ron Z. Goetzel, Ph.D., Emory University and Thomson Reuters

“The Bipartisan Policy Center’s new report not only addresses rising obesity rates and their role on our nation’s skyrocketing health care costs, but also identifies opportunities for stakeholders to improve health through workplace wellness programs. For large employers – like universities or hospitals, manufacturers or high tech companies – workplace wellness programs can have a significant impact on the health of their employees and, ultimately, lower health care costs. Through targeted wellness programs, employers can improve productivity, reduce absenteeism and yield high returns on their workplace wellness investments.”

-- former U.S. Senate Majority Leaders Tom Daschle and Dr. Bill Frist, co-chairs of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Health Project

“We applaud the Bipartisan Policy Center for taking a leadership role in addressing key drivers of our health care crisis, and most importantly for emphasizing the value of prevention. Within Johnson & Johnson, it has been our philosophy that “caring” for our employees’ health is a business imperative. Over the years we have been able to demonstrate that investment in preventing conditions such as obesity, unhealthy eating, or physical inactivity, to mention a few, can yield significant return from increased productivity to reduced health care costs to overall increased engagement and satisfaction.

"Through collective effort, like those underway at the Bipartisan Policy Center, we can all make healthy workplaces a competitive advantage for businesses, communities and the nation at large.”

-- Dr. Fikry Isaac, MD, Vice President, Global Health Services, Johnson & Johnson

“As both a major employer and insurer in North Carolina, we are committed to focusing on the health of our employees, customers and the community. Our initiatives provide a flexible, incentivized worksite; resources and support for employees and customers; and concentrated community-based efforts to increase access to healthy local food and safe places for play and activity throughout our state.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina recognizes the critical role wellness and prevention play in this effort and applauds the Bipartisan Policy Center for elevating these critical pieces to solving our health care crisis to the forefront of the national conversation. All insurers have a vested interest in reducing health care costs and improving the health of all Americans.”

-- J. Bradley Wilson, President and CEO, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina

“We’ve long believed that greater funding for the promotion of all forms of fruits and vegetables would be helpful towards increasing their consumption by Americans. The Bipartisan Policy Center’s Nutrition and Physical Activity Initiative recommendation of a generic fruit and vegetable promotion program, funded through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, is practical since all states would benefit. If implemented, this would help make huge strides in the overall effort to promote health through greater fruit and vegetable consumption.”

-- Elizabeth Pivonka, Ph.D., R.D., President and CEO, Produce for Better Health Foundation

“I commend the Bipartisan Policy Center for taking on such a pressing and vital issue. Today’s kids could be the first in U.S. history to live shorter and less healthy lives than their parents, but we can turn that around starting with promoting better nutrition and more physical activity. By including concrete and actionable recommendations – especially around evidence-based disease prevention efforts and innovative approaches to covering prevention – the report provides important ammunition for the nation’s fight against skyrocketing health care costs and rising obesity rates.”

-- Jeff Levi, Ph.D., Executive Director, Trust for America’s Health and Chair of the Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion, and Integrative and Public Health

“We applaud the Bipartisan Policy Center for highlighting the role community-based strategies must play in any comprehensive solution to address the nation’s growing rates of chronic disease. With 79 million Americans with prediabetes, we must act to help individuals say no to diabetes. Evidence -- and our experience -- shows that we can reverse the increase in the number of Americans who have prediabetes, and for the past two years YMCA of the USA and the Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance have worked together to invest in scaling a proven, community-based diabetes prevention model with positive outcomes. We are proud that innovative sponsors like UnitedHealthcare, Medica and over 150 self-funded employers have already signed on to reimburse for a network of well-trained lifestyle coaches that are best suited to deliver these proven programs, which are reducing the prevalence of diabetes in communities across the country.”

-- Jonathan Lever, Vice President, Health Innovation, YMCA of the USA and Tim Koehler, President, Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance, UnitedHealth Group

“We applaud the Bipartisan Policy Center for highlighting the connection between national security and healthy schools. The retired admirals and generals of Mission: Readiness believe that every school should provide physical activity during the day and improve school meals. We especially like the idea of improving the nutrition and physical activity at military and public schools with high military populations by asking them to, at minimum, meet the voluntary Healthier U.S. School Challenge. With one in four young adults too overweight to serve in the military, improving the health of our children is critical to ensuring that our obesity crisis does not become a national security crisis.”

-- Jamie Barnett, Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy (Ret.) and member of Mission: Readiness

“We applaud the efforts of the Bipartisan Policy Center to improve the health of Americans by focusing on physical activities and nutritional opportunities. Businesses can benefit from the healthy workplace recommendations in their efforts to improve health in their workplace and in the communities where they draw their workforce. This information will be useful to the coalitions and employers that are collaborating in local communities to improve workplace wellness.”

-- Andrew Webber, President and CEO, National Business Coalition on Health

“We appreciate the Bipartisan Policy Center’s focus on large institutions in the food world. We look forward to continuing to explore opportunities to improve the affordability and availability of healthy choices in a variety of settings where Americans live, work, play and learn. We applaud the Bipartisan Policy Center for highlighting the need for centralized access to ingredient and product information across the entire supply chain. This would help Compass Group to more efficiently deliver information and education to help our customers and clients make increasingly informed food choices.”

-- Deanne Brandstetter, MBA, R.D., Vice President Nutrition and Wellness, Compass Group, North America

“As an industry leader, Hyatt is proud to be collaborating with the BPC on this important initiative. Through the nearly 24 million guests Hyatt serves each year, we are proud to be doing our part as leaders in the large institutions category to address this all important cause, our health. We look forward to continuing our commitment to the health and wellness of our guests and will explore more opportunities to work in this space to further the message.”

-- Susan Santiago, Vice President, Food and Beverage North America Operations, Hyatt Hotels

“It is no secret, our current generation could become the first in American history to live shorter lives than their parents. We applaud the Bipartisan Policy Center for addressing the obesity epidemic. Lots to Lose: How America's Health and Obesity Crisis Threatens our Economic Future spotlights a philosophy long held at the Alliance for a Healthier Generation – obesity in the United States is a complex issue and requires the commitment of every American to solve. Industry leaders, educators, parents and healthcare professionals all can play a critical role in reversing the obesity trend. We are honored to have worked closely with the Bipartisan Policy Center on the development of this report and commend them on their comprehensive vision for change as articulated in this important document.”

-- Ginny Ehrlich, CEO, Alliance for a Healthier Generation