Spreading the Word That Lifestyle Matters More Than Genes

National campaign on healthy aging

The American Association for World Health, Washington, conducted a yearlong national media and community education campaign to promote healthy aging, which was the theme of the World Health Organization World Health Day 1999.

Entitled Healthy Aging, Healthy Living — START NOW! the campaign sought to:

  • Increase public awareness of the healthy aging concept, that is, that healthy aging is determined by lifestyle choices and practices rather than by genes.
  • Inform the public about the importance of good nutrition, physical activity, and other healthy behaviors throughout life.
  • Build alliances between public, private and voluntary agencies, institutions, and organizations to focus on healthy aging and address health-related issues.
  • Serve as a catalyst for the establishment of community-based programs promoting healthy aging.

Key Results

  • The association publicly launched the campaign on World Health Day 1999 (April 7) with a symposium at the Pan American Health Organization headquarters in Washington. The symposium was attended by 250 invited representatives of organizations and agencies interested in aging issues.
  • Following the symposium, association president and CEO Richard L. Wittenberg made presentations on healthy aging to groups in six cities in northwestern Ohio, and was keynote speaker at a Sacramento, Calif., event celebrating the United Nations International Year of Older Persons.
  • The association produced a 48-page Healthy Aging, Healthy Living — START NOW! resource booklet targeting local communities.


The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) supported the project with a grant of $50,000 between April 1999 and April 2000.