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Strategic Alliance  

Action Alert
April 14, 2011

221 Oak Street
Oakland, CA 94607
Tel: 510.444.7738
Fax: 510.663.1280



Tipping the Scale Toward Health

“If an individual's body mass index isn't a purely personal matter, what is?” reads the first sentence in an editorial published in this Monday’s L.A. Times. The article, Should There be a Fat Tax?, goes on to say that concerns over chronic disease “have resulted in a raft of nanny-state proposals to shape the public's dietary habits by taxing this food or that drink or by outlawing free toys that accompany unhealthy children's meals at some restaurants.” Instead of strategies that focus on creating healthy food and activity environments, like limiting junk food marketing, the article endorses efforts that shift all responsibility to the individual, such as Arizona's recent proposal to levy a fee on obese Medicaid patients.

Throughout the country, communities are increasingly using policy change as a critical tool to build healthy communities from the ground up. We need the public and policymakers to know that we support efforts to create healthy food and activity environments; that means responding to editorials and articles like this one.

Strategic Alliance encourages Rapid Responders to post a comment on the L.A. Times editorial, and to pen letters to the editor in response to local and state media coverage on other policy efforts to create community environments that support our health in the first place.

Here are some tips to guide your conversation:
  • It’s the environment. The research is clear: where we live, learn, work, and play is one of the most important elements determining whether we will be healthy. Yet many communities aren’t given a fair chance at health. When neighborhoods don’t have clean parks, places to walk, vibrant retail, or healthy food available, everyone’s health suffers. Policy changes that build healthy communities are critical to fostering healthy behaviors.

  • Prevention adds up. Preventable illness and chronic disease related to unhealthy eating and lack of physical activity accounts for nearly 17% of our health care costs —that’s $168 million a year in medical costs alone. Policy can reduce the negative impact of junk food in communities and increase physical activity opportunities  – a critical strategy if we are to reverse unprecedented surges in Type II diabetes and an array of health problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and cancer.

  • Public health has a long, proud history of using policy to protect health and individuals. Seat belt laws and policies regulating lead in paint are built on the same principle of protection.  Such laws are a given today, but they were controversial when first introduced, too. Kids didn’t used to be automatically put in car seats—parents couldn’t buy them or afford them, cars didn’t accommodate them, and our culture didn’t support them. Our country worked together along with businesses, local government and families, using policy to encourage car seat use. That’s the same kind of shift we’re working toward today. We want children and parents to take for granted that the places they live, work, play, and learn are going to support them in healthy eating and physical activity—not make it harder.

  • We need policies that protect children and families. Policies that increase access to healthy foods and opportunities for safe physical activity and play protect everyone. When a bag of chips is cheaper than an orange and there are no safe and accessible places for children to play, individuals and families have the odds stacked against them.

Share your advocacy efforts with us!  Did you write a response or pitch a story in support of comprehensive policies that create healthier environments? Send us a quick note so we can make sure your efforts are recognized.



The Strategic Alliance is reframing the debate on nutrition and physical activity away from a focus solely on individual choice and lifestyle towards one of environmental influences and corporate and government responsibility. Current Steering Committee members are: California Adolescent Nutrition and Fitness Program (CANFit), California Center for Public Health Advocacy (CCPHA), California Food Policy Advocates (CFPA), California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, California Park and Recreation Society (CPRS) , California Project LEAN, California WIC Association (CWA), Child Care Food Program Roundtable, Latino Health Access, Partnership for the Public's Health, PolicyLink, Prevention Institute, Samuels & Associates, and Public Health Law and Policy.


The Strategic Alliance is currently engaged in building a broad and diverse statewide membership. To join or for more information, please visit us on the Web, www.eatbettermovemore.org, or contact Phebe Gibson at 510.444.7738 or Phebe@preventioninstitute.org. And even if you're already a member, please forward this message on to your colleagues so we can continue to strengthen our coalition. Thank you!


The Strategic Alliance is reframing the debate on nutrition and

physical activity - from a focus solely on individual choice and lifestyle,

towards one of environmental influences and corporate and government responsibility.


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