As the incidence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) continues to rise globally, public health agencies have increased their efforts to find scalable, feasible, and effective interventions to prevent their onset. In the United States alone, over 117 million adults suffer from one or more NCDs. We know from the World Health Organization that interventions in behavioral risk factors, such as tobacco use, physical activity levels, and diet are the most effective methods in combating the growing public health epidemic. By purposefully and systematically targeting these risk factors, we can reduce the prevalence of NCDs such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and cancer, and improve health for everyone.
The Clinton Foundation’s Health Matters Initiative is actively working to address the threat of NCDs as part of our goal to improve the health and wellbeing of all people across the United States. By working with partners at the national level, such as Verizon and Nike, and partners and stakeholders at the community level, such as GE in Houston and the PGA TOUR in Northeast Florida, we have made great strides in advancing our vision. Together with our partners, our work will touch more than 75 million people across the United States.
Our partnership with the James Beard Foundation and Palisades Media Ventures utilizes a model of collaboration that is common in all of our work. We have just launched an innovative cooking competition, America Cooks with Chefs: The 800 Calorie Challenge, in recognition of the strong correlation between poor diet and increased risk of diet-related NCDs. This competition aims to empower Americans and their families to eat healthier foods and understand the options available to cook healthy meals with nutritious and affordable ingredients. The challenge represents a multi-faceted approach to health promotion and consists of hands-on training for participants, live cooking challenges, and the development of a healthy cooking toolkit that can be used to support behavioral change in institutions and individuals. By delivering entertaining, engaging, and educational content on a national scale, we’re demonstrating that healthy eating and cooking can and should be a part of everyone’s daily routine.
Working with the food & beverage industry
The Clinton Foundation’s work in NCD prevention and treatment in the United States spans almost a decade. The Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a partnership between the Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association, has a proven track record of working with the food and beverage industry to improve their youth focused product offerings and marketing campaigns. In the U.S. alone, the food and beverage industry spends billions of dollars marketing products to children and adolescents, heavily influencing the diets of young people. Rather than work against industry, we must encourage and work with companies to ensure that for their consumers the healthy choice is the easy and best choice. In 2006, the Alliance brokered a landmark agreement with the American Beverage Association that resulted in a 90 percent reduction in beverage calories shipped to schools between 2004 and the end of the 2009-2010 school year*.
More recently, the Alliance and McDonald’s began a multi-year effort to revise the marketing of youth oriented food products in its restaurants to emphasize healthy drink, snack, and meal options. These collective efforts demonstrate the success of multi-sectoral partnerships in creating systemic change and supporting long-term improvements to health on a national scale.
Collaborating for positive change worldwide
Despite these successes, there is still much work to be done. We need to continue to prioritize the promotion of healthy diets and balanced nutritional intake as a key tool in the fight against NCDs. The Clinton Foundation remains committed to developing partnerships of purpose to develop effective solutions and to ignite positive change domestically and globally around this critical issue.
This blog was cross-posted with World Cancer Research Fund International on September 10, 2014.
*Update: This statement has been edited. An earlier version incorrectly stated that this agreement resulted in the removal of full calorie soft drinks from over 90% of schools in the USA.