National Public Health Week (NPHW) begins April 4th and this year’s theme is Healthiest Nation 2030. The goal is to make the United States the healthiest nation in one generation by using cross-sectoral knowledge, resources and expertise to benefit communities across the country. Investing in public health has a demonstrated impact on the bottom line; employers, communities, states and our country as a whole benefit when people are healthier. For example, every $1 invested in an effective workplace safety program may save $4-$6 in avoided illness, injuries and fatalities1.
The priorities for this year’s NPHW include many issues that directly impact employers. Among them:
Helping all young people graduate high school
Why does it matter? Education is the leading indicator of good health, giving people access to better jobs, incomes and neighborhoods. An educated workforce is among the most important needs among the employer community.
What can you do? Call for policies that start with early school success and lead to higher on-time high school graduation rates.
Increased economic mobility and better health
Why does it matter? Poverty and poor health are deeply intertwined. People living at or below the poverty line have higher rates of chronic disease, are more likely to have been diagnosed with depression, are more likely to smoke and have less access to affordable healthy foods.
What can you do? Support policies that raise the minimum wage and paid sick and family leave for all workers. If Congress raised the minimum hourly wage to $10.10, 25 million U.S. workers would benefit and 5 million to 6 million Americans would be lifted out of poverty2. When workers are unable to take time off when they’re sick, the public’s health is impacted, including by the unnecessary spread of disease.
Giving everyone a choice of healthy food
Why does it matter? Poor nutrition is directly associated with many of the leading causes of death in America such as heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes3. These conditions are also among the costly drivers of health care costs in the United States.
What can you do? We wrote a separate blog post about food and nutrition in the work place which offers some great ideas for improving vending, implementing healthy meeting policies, and others. Beyond your own workplace, you can support local bills for taxing sugary drinks, which alone may be responsible for at least one-fifth of the weight gained by Americans in the past three decades4.
You can learn more about NPHW priorities by clicking on the links provided below:
- Social justice and health
- Building a nation of safe, healthy communities
- Preparing for the health effects of climate change
- Providing quality health care for everyone
- Strengthening public health infrastructure and capacity
You can join the movement and celebrate Public Health Week by visiting www.nphw.org/. And, watch the video below to learn more about why investing in public health is so important.
1United States Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration. https://www.osha.gov/Region7/fallprotection/safetypays.html
2Oxfam Working Poor in America http://www.oxfamamerica.org/static/media/files/Working-Poor-in-America-report-Oxfam-America.pdf
3National Public Health Week. http://www.nphw.org/tools-and-tips/themes/give-everyone-a-choice-of-healthy-food
4Public Health Law Center. http://publichealthlawcenter.org/topics/healthy-eating/sugar-sweetened-beverages