The Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) launched its Nutrition and Physical Activity Initiative (NPAI) in March 2011 with the goal of identifying opportunities for constructive engagement with the public and private sectors to reduce obesity and chronic disease and their associated health care costs. Led by a bipartisan group of four former U.S. cabinet secretaries, the initiative brings together key subject matter experts, policymakers, business leaders, and nonprofit stakeholders to identify opportunities for collaborative action and accelerate the uptake of promising prevention innovations.
Following a year of outreach to stakeholders and experts across sectors, the NPAI released its report, Lots to Lose: How America’s Health and Obesity Crisis Threatens our Economic Future, in June of 2012. The report’s recommendations focus on opportunities for collaborative, bipartisan action in four categories: healthy families, healthy schools, healthy workplaces, and healthy communities.
Following the release of its report, NPAI has chosen to focus on implementing a short list of key recommendations including:
- Developing healthy institutions, including the Department of Defense
- Demonstrating the value of prevention
- Improving nutrition and physical activity training for health care professionals
Areas of Focus
Developing Healthy Institutions, including the Department of Defense
Large institutions—military installations, school districts, universities, and hospitals—influence the health behaviors of millions of Americans each day. BPC is working with large institutions to promote physical activity and increase the portfolio of affordable, healthier foods available at these institutions and leverage their significant market power to influence both consumers and supply chains. Through its work with the Department of Defense’s Healthy Base Initiative, BPC will help design demonstration projects that encourage wellness, military readiness, and cost containment for military personnel and their families.
Demonstrating the Value of Prevention
In April, BPC’s Health Care Cost Containment Initiative released a report, A Bipartisan Rx for Patient-Centered Care and System-wide Cost Containment, that recommended strategies to contain health care cost growth on a system-wide basis, while enhancing health care quality and value. The report recognizes that reducing chronic disease is essential to controlling costs and makes four recommendations to help build the evidence base and support for prevention as a tool in cost containment. In its work to disseminate these recommendations, NPAI seeks to: demonstrate the value of prevention-oriented strategies to key decision makers across sectors; elevate evidence-based prevention strategies; and, identify opportunities to leverage existing government dollars more effectively.
Improving Training for Health Care Professionals
Health professionals are a trusted source of health information, but they often lack the necessary training and incentives to deliver important nutrition and physical activity counseling to patients and their families. BPC will help facilitate the shift in training for health professionals to increase nutrition and physical activity offerings to: support a shift toward prevention; communicate evidence-based information to patients; and better connect patients to health care services and community resources. In October, BPC is hosting a forum on promising practices, in partnership with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation and the American College of Sports Medicine, and will synthesize key findings in a white paper.