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The Conversation on Prevention
Health Reform Rapid Response

Late last week, our friends at Trust for America’s Health shared the results of an important new poll from the Herndon Alliance with us. Community Prevention and the Public” reveals that there is very strong support for community prevention efforts among the general public.

We strongly recommend that you read the full presentation, but we’ve pulled out some of the most critical talking points so that you can start working them into your messaging. We also wanted to share a new stat with you from a study released late last week showing obesity costs account for a whopping 17% of health care expenditures.

The Story

Here's the conversation. (All quotes and stats below are directly from the poll, unless otherwise indicated.)

There is overwhelming support for prevention. “73% of the American public supports allocating resources towards community prevention initiatives, described as efforts to make it easier for people to maintain their health and make healthier choices.”

When a policy is connected to young people, it has strong support. 89% rated this strategy as effective: “Too many schools have become unhealthy, offering snacks and soda from vending machines as well as unhealthy school lunches to kids. We should limit junk food in schools and make the school lunch menu more nutritious. We should also have physical education classes every day, not cut them, so kids can be active, which helps them be healthier and learn better.”

Linking community prevention to solving multiple problems (and fiscal efficiency) works. 79% rated this strategy as effective: “In these tough times, we have to do more with less, and find ways to promote prevention while we do other things. Where possible, every school should have a community garden. We should use our school facilities after work for exercise programs. When we repair parks and streets, let’s build playgrounds and bike paths where it makes sense. For minimal cost and effort we can get multiple benefits.”

The public support prevention generally, and they support specific strategies. An overwhelming percentage of the public called these specific initiatives a priority (rating them six or above on a scale of 1-10):

  • Making school lunches healthier and more nutritious (92%).
  • Labeling packaged foods so that it's clearer which ones contain unhealthy amounts of fat, sodium, or sugar (90%).
  • Banning smoking from public places like restaurants and bars (82%).
  • Increasing access to fresh fruits and vegetables through grocery stores and farmers' markets in neighborhoods (87%).

Talking points to guide your conversation:

The United States doesn’t just support prevention—we want more of it. Whether you're working with the public, policy makers or elected officials, use these talking points to make your case stronger:

  • The public wants prevention. 73% of the public support resources that go to community prevention initiatives. Even when community prevention efforts are tied to higher taxes, the majority of the public still favors them.
  • Prevention saves money and lives. Illness and chronic disease related to unhealthy eating and lack of physical activity accounts for nearly 17% of our health care costs, according to a new study—that’s $168 million in medical costs alone. Community prevention dollars are working right now to alleviate some of these soaring costs—and improving health at the same time.
  • The public supports policy change to build health. When it comes to implementing new policies that protect families and provide more healthy options, the numbers are clear. More than ¾ of the public say that bringing more fresh fruits and vegetables into neighborhood outlets, healthier lunches for kids, and banning smoking from public places are a priority to them.

Here's what you can do:

  • Continue making the case for prevention: share your examples of prevention in action with us.
  • Write a blog, op-ed or letter to the editor of your local paper or to any of the outlets we've mentioned above, making the case for prevention. 
  • Visit our Health Reform Advocacy page for more information.
Thanks for staying involved!

Using our talking points? Let us know! Email us with your feedback, leads on relevant stories and comments.

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