Communities Putting Prevention to Work: CDC awards $372.8 Million to 44 Communities
On March 19, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, HHS Assistant Secretary Dr. Howard Koh, Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin, and CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden announced $372.8 million in Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) grants to cities, towns, and tribes across the country.
The awards to 44 communities will support public health efforts to improve nutrition, increase physical activity, reduce obesity, and decrease tobacco use—four critical actions to combat chronic disease and promote health. The community projects are part of a comprehensive HHS prevention and wellness initiative funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act).
Three funded communities—Hamilton County, Ohio, Orange County, Florida, and Bartholomew County, Indiana—were linked via satellite to the national launch event at HHS headquarters, where the local Washington, D.C., project was also highlighted.
“Community efforts can prevent heart attacks, strokes, cancer, diabetes, and other serious health problems, saving both lives and money, said Dr. Frieden. “Creating environments that promote health is a best buy for the American public. Without aggressive efforts to prevent and control chronic diseases the rise in health care costs will continue unchecked.”
CPPW funding focuses on supporting communities to make the policy, environmental, and systems changes necessary for obesity and tobacco prevention—for example, increasing the availability of healthy foods and beverages, improving access to safe places for physical activity, and creating smoke-free environments. Such broad-based changes have the potential to improve health outcomes for more people than other prevention approaches that focus on small groups or individuals.
First Lady Michelle Obama, a champion in the fight against childhood obesity through her Let’s Move campaign, said she is greatly encouraged by CPPW’s intensified work on chronic disease prevention, specifically the $230 million in grants (of the total $372.8 million) for obesity prevention. The CPPW initiative is highlighted on the Let’s Move Web site.
“Significant public health investments in local communities will build a healthier American,” said Mrs. Obama. “This unprecedented level of commitment to prevention will impact more than 50 million people who live in the communities receiving these awards.”
Despite the historic level of funding, Dr. Ursula Bauer, Director of CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (NCCDPHP), noted that this investment in prevention is still significantly less than the cost of treating chronic diseases. “Each year, tobacco use and obesity account for roughly $50 billion in combined excess medical costs in these 44 communities,” she said. “That amount translates to about $1,000 per capita, or more than 250 times the annual Recovery Act investment.”
As another comparison, Dr. Bauer noted that food companies spend 10 times the annual CPPW per-capita funding, roughly $37, on advertising alone each year, and tobacco companies spend roughly $43 per capita annually to advertise and promote cigarettes.
Chronic diseases are the leading causes of premature death and disability in the Nation. Community projects will focus on reducing the leading risk factors for chronic disease and supporting healthy lifestyles by helping make healthy choices the easy choices for all residents.
“The public health interventions that communities will implement are based on the best scientific and programmatic evidence available,” said Dr. Wayne Giles, Director of NCCDPHP’s Division of Adult and Community Health, the unit that administers Communities Putting Prevention to Work. “Investments at the community level ensure flexibility. Communities are able to choose the best mix of policy changes and programs for their residents and can therefore respond to the unique health needs of their residents.”
The proposed work of the communities is as diverse as the communities themselves—from the sprawling metropolis of Los Angeles, California, to the City of Providence, located in the nation’s smallest state of Rhode Island.
In Los Angeles, which received funding for obesity prevention, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health will launch a new initiative, Renew Environments for Nutrition, Exercise, and Wellness in Los Angeles County (“Renew LAC”). To promote nutrition, the initiative will implement a public education campaign aimed at reducing sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and promoting healthy eating. To improve physical activity, the initiative will increase the capacity of Los Angeles schools to implement physical education policies.
In Providence, which received funding for tobacco prevention, the CPPW Tobacco-Free Campaign led by the Rhode Island Department of Health and the City of Providence will engage in multiple strategies to combat tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke. The community project will pilot test a smoke-free policy in a Providence Housing Authority complex and, if found successful, will work to expand the policy to other city housing units. The campaign will also implement a tobacco cessation program for uninsured smokers who want to quit, initiate a policy in the Providence public schools to create smoke-free campuses and restrict tobacco sponsorship, and launch a city-wide public education campaign to curtail smoking.
Among the 44 CPPW communities, 23 are receiving funding for obesity prevention, 14 for tobacco prevention, and seven for both obesity and tobacco prevention efforts. For the full list of funded communities please visit http://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/recovery/community.htm.
The announcement of the community awards followed the release in early February of more than $119 million in CPPW funds to states and U.S. territories. Those projects are supporting statewide policy and environmental changes in nutrition, physical activity, and tobacco control, and expanded tobacco quitlines and cessation media campaigns. In addition, CPPW funds will also support state chronic-disease self-management programs for older Americans, a National Organizations Initiative, and a National Prevention Media Initiative. For updates about these efforts and other CPPW news please visit http://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/recovery.
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