Friday, April 9, 2010

It's National Public Health Week!

This week we celebrate National Public Health Week, an annual observance led by the American Public Health Association.  The theme for 2010 is “A Healthier America: One Community at a Time.” Our nation’s health is in poor shape. Even though we spend more money on healthcare than any other country, about 46 million Americans do not have health insurance. Providing health insurance to all Americans is just one step to becoming a healthier nation.  Nearly 900,000 people die from preventable deaths each year. If we truly want to become the healthiest nation in one generation, we must invest in a long-term and comprehensive approach to prevention both at the clinical and community level.

We all must to commit to promoting good health in our communities to create the wave effect across the country.  It starts with small changes in our neighborhoods, schools, work places, and cities, but can create momentum to inspire others to take action until it spreads from coast to coast.  Start small, but think BIG.  DC Voices for MEAL Choices is committed to educating the people of the Washington, DC metro area about making healthy food choices both within and outside of the home.  We are committed to ensuring the community is aware of our right to know what is contained in the food we consume and the effects of proper nutrition on our long-term health.

Even though Congress recently passed national menu labeling within the health reform bill, this is just one small change in stopping the obesity epidemic and helping our nation become the healthiest in one generation.  DVMC will continue to advocate for comprehensive nutrition policies and community programs, including those promoting nutrition education, access to healthy food in schools and communities, and food safety.  We encourage you to join the Metropolitan Washington Public Health Association and DVMC as we work to make our community safe and healthy for all.

Why not start by doing something easy?  Urge congress to improve the nutrition and wellness policies in our nation’s schools by visiting Tell your friends and family to do the same and share these videos to promote good health!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

DC Voices presents at MWPHA Annual Meeting

The DC Voices for MEAL Choices team had an opportunity to table and present about our work at the 2010 Metropolitan Washington Public Health Association's Annual Meeting- The Future of Public Health Leadership: Where Passion Meets Action.  We were on a panel with George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services Professor and Chair of the Health Promotion department Dr. Caroline Sparks, and members from other MWPHA advocacy teams Positive Places, Save Lives Free the Condoms, and Campuses for Clean Air.  

During the panel we discussed the history of the DC MEAL Act and advocacy activities of DVMC over the past three years.  We also had the chance to answer questions and talk about the national menu labeling mandate contained in the health reform bill.  It was exciting to see the energy around nutrition and obesity related issues, including menu labeling! 

Check out the pictures from this successful and inspiring meeting!  

Thursday, April 1, 2010

DC Voices for Meal Choices hits the streets

On Saturday, March 27, 2010, DC Voices accompanied other MWPHA members to do monthly health education outreach in Anacostia and neighboring Prince George’s County.  We had the opportunity to speak to local residents about the health reform bill, menu labeling and nutrition.  In addition to asking questions about nutrition and fast food, people played our “Guess the Calories” quiz game, and were surprised with some of the answers about the calorie content of menu items at popular chain restaurants.

Everyone we spoke with was familiar with and excited about the recent health reform bill President Obama signed into law.  While many people weren’t sure about the exact provisions within the bill, everyone felt positive about it.  Not everyone knew about the menu-labeling mandate, so we were able to engage in a casual discussion about what this would mean in terms of health.   Through our conversations, we discovered some people were not quite sure what a calorie was, or how many they should be consuming in a day.  Of the people who had basic nutrition knowledge, only a few people said listing the calories did not matter to them personally because they would eat what they want.  One man said he could eat the whole menu and not gain a pound, which prompted us to talk with him about some chronic diseases that can result from poor nutrition.  When we asked if he would let his young son order something high in calories, he responded, that he would not.  He would choose the food item lowest in calories.  Most of the people were enthusiastic about knowing the caloric content of their food, and are hopeful it will help improve health.

Based on our experience talking with people in the metro DC community, we feel there should be a nutrition education campaign that accompanies this legislation.  If people do not have understanding of what a calorie is, the provision will not be as effective as it could be.  Everyone should have access not only to nutrition information of everything they are consuming, but also access to basic nutrition education so they can understand what it means to their health.

Coming soon: A DC Voices for MEAL Choices video featuring interviews with some of the people we spoke with at Eastover Plaza!