A Vision to Build a Culture of Health

Last month, the Institute on Aging co-sponsored ‘A Vision to Build a Culture of Health’, a Penn Center for Public Health Initiatives (CPHI) Seminar Series event. We were especially excited to welcome the guest speaker, Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, MBA, former IOA Director, back to Penn’s campus to bring attention to such an important topic – improving the health of our nation as a whole.

Dr. Lavizzo-Mourey, President and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), the nations largest philanthropy dedicated to health and health care, focused her lecture on how we as a nation must come together in order to build a ‘Culture of Health.’ “Health is more than simply not being sick,” explained Dr. Lavizzo-Mourey, a devoted advocate for reversing childhood obesity, creating a health care system to provide the best care at a reasonable cost, and addressing the various social factors (where you live, level of education, access to healthy foods, etc.) that impact health. She stressed that society needs to embrace the idea that promoting health is just as important as treating disease.

According to Dr. Lavizzo-Mourey, she believes that making the necessary changes towards building a Culture of Health in America is absolutely possible, but we must demand the change. She compared the concept to the evolution of recycling. Once the idea was formed, accepted, and enforced, it quickly became second nature because it was made easy. With the use of specifically labeled bins, it takes little to no effort to recycle. It was a necessary change to improve our environment and so it became a priority. If we can form the same mindset about the steps that we need to take to improve the health of the nation, they, too, will become second nature.

“Lets make shifting to health our next big idea!”

Dr. Lavizzo-Mourey explained that through their ‘Culture of Health Prize,’ she and her colleagues at RWJF highlight and honor communities that are embracing the important need for local change to make health their top priority. The selected communities are awarded for “leading some of the nation’s most innovative efforts to build a Culture of Health”, through their unique efforts to promote active lifestyles, expand educational opportunities, and address localized factors that impact the communities health. Learn more here.

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The lecture concluded with a brief Q&A, followed by a lunch reception and the Culture of Health Showcase. The showcase displayed poster submissions from those who are also helping to build a Culture of Health through their work including research, teaching and mentoring, community engagement, policy development, and more.

For more information on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, visit: http://www.rwjf.org

For more information on the Penn CPHI and their future Seminar Series events, visit: http://www.cphi.upenn.edu

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