Interview with Partnership For A Healthier America
by Lisa Vance, Joseph Shivers, and Kelly Close, diaTribe
Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) is a new, nonpartisan organization started in partnership with First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative against childhood obesity. PHA is primarily focused on reducing obesity through collaborations with the private sector and other organizations, and it's off to a great start. It has recently announced relationships with Wal-Mart, Bright Horizons, a few of the country's largest grocers, and several small, innovative ones. Wal-Mart, for example, will work with its suppliers to eliminate the price disparity between healthy and unhealthy foods, as well as reduce sugar and sodium content in packaged foods by 2015.
We recently sat down with Larry Soler, President and CEO of the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA), and James Gavin, MD, PhD, the Chairman of the PHA Board of Directors. Before coming to PHA, Mr. Soler was Chief Operating Officer at JDRF, and Dr. Gavin is currently CEO & Chief Medical Officer of Healing Our Village, Inc. During the interview, they described how they try to convince companies to collaborate with their organization, how quickly they hope to bring on new partners, and why they think the organization will survive even after Michelle Obama is no longer First Lady.
Overview Of The Partnership For A Healthier America
Kelly Close: Larry and Dr. Gavin, we really appreciate you joining us. To start, can you help us understand what you're trying to accomplish and what you see as the major goals of the First Lady's initiative to reduce childhood obesity?
Dr. James Gavin: As you know, the First Lady has made a commitment to reducing childhood obesity within a generation and changing the slope of the line where our children are in the obesity curve. And for that, they have devised five pillars in the Let's Move! Initiative, which are the underlying theme of the movement.
• Create a healthy start on life for our children, from pregnancy through early childhood
• Empower parents and caregivers to make healthy choices for their families
• Healthier nutrition in school
• Increased access to physical activity; and
• The elimination of "food deserts" [areas where healthy, affordable food is scarce] so that people can have access to more healthy foods.
Those are broad areas and they represent what it's going to take, at a minimum, to drive a change in childhood obesity. The role that we play at the Partnership for a Healthier America is to engage the many private organizations, industries, advocacy groups, and service organizations that we will need to collaborate with in this effort.
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