Interview with Partnership For A Healthier America (Continued)


Joseph Shivers: On Mrs. Obama's message, we know there are some questions about how exactly she wants it to be perceived and how the messaging will work. What sort of historical examples are you looking at? Is this similar to the war on cancer? Is this the space race and putting a man on the moon? Is this fighting AIDS?

Dr. Gavin: Well in my own view, it's a bit of "all of the above." This is not exactly akin to any one of those things. We have elements of culture: the way the market operates, issues of personal choice, freedom, health, and medical outcomes. There are a lot of issues that aren't exactly like any of those other things though, so in and of itself, I think it's a one-of-a-kind campaign.

Larry: One of the things we want to try to help people understand is that the things that we are doing, the things that we are working on with companies, these healthy commitments, are going to make it easier for people to be healthier. So if we're working with a company that agrees to build a grocery store in a neighborhood that was previously underserved, that's making it easier for you to get healthy fresh vegetables and produce, right? It doesn't solve everything, but it makes it easier. If we are working with Wal-Mart to reformulate all the food that they sell at Wal-Mart to have less sugar, less sodium, and less fat, that's going to make it easier for people to buy more healthy foods at the stores. One of the other Wal-Mart commitments is that they're going to have a special marker, an emblem that's going to be added to food that they sell that passes a certain nutritional test. The typical Wal-Mart shopper shops for something like 19 minutes. It's often a mom with two kids, so the ability to look quickly to see if something has passed a nutritional test that has been approved by an outside nutritional organization makes things easier for people. So that's part of the message: trying to make this easier.

Dr. Gavin: If I could add – our efforts will have other benefits. For instance, in a place like Detroit, a lot of the urban blight will be minimized in a move toward increasing the number of urban gardens. That sounds like a political agenda – in part, it is – but it also has a lot of social and economic and health consequences. It's easier to push that when you can count on a larger message that there's a national movement afoot to improve the health of our communities.

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Last Modified Date: April 23, 2013

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by Brenda Bell
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