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New Award Recognizes Innovative Health Professional Training and Education Programs in Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity Counseling

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

New York, N.Y. – Today, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, the American College of Sports Medicine, and the Bipartisan Policy Center launch the inaugural Innovation Award for Health Care Provider Training and Education. This award recognizes leading health professional training programs that have developed new and innovative ways to provide nutrition, physical activity, and obesity counseling education to their students. Three categories of awards are available: schools or programs offering innovative training for future health care professionals, schools or programs offering innovative professional development or graduate training for current health care professionals, and student-led programs offering innovative training or curricula. Applications are open today through November 11, 2016.

Physical inactivity, obesity, and related chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and hypertension constitute some of the most challenging public health threats facing America today. To combat these threats, health care providers—as trusted sources of health information—are uniquely positioned to play a significant role in the prevention and management of these prevalent diseases.

“Living a physically active lifestyle is an individual’s first line of defense against sedentary disease,” says Jim Whitehead, American College of Sports Medicine CEO and executive vice president. “This award will help facilitate giving health care providers the information they need to help those in their care live healthier lives.”

However, less than a quarter of physicians feel they have received adequate training in counseling patients on diet or physical activity level and fewer than 30 percent of medical schools meet the minimum number of hours of education in nutrition and exercise science recommended by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. While 94 percent of physicians agree that nutritional counseling should be a part of the visit with a patient, only 14 percent of doctors felt they had adequate training to do so.

“Obesity is the greatest public health threat of our time,” says Dr. Howell Wechsler, CEO of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. “We need innovative solutions to our health care professional training system so it can better serve the needs of patients.”

In order to support health care providers’ ability to deliver and coordinate consistently effective care in this area, the entire health professional training system, and not just medical schools, must provide them with the expertise and professional development to better serve their patients.

“We hope this award will inspire many more schools to strengthen and promote training programs in nutrition, physical activity and obesity counseling,” says Lisel Loy, vice president of programs and director of the prevention initiative at BPC. “Obesity is an epidemic that affects tens of millions of Americans. We can’t afford not to take action.”

Awardees will be notified in January 2017 and awards will be presented in the spring.

To learn more about the Innovation Award for Health Care Provider Training and Education, visit innovatinghealthcare.org.