America the Fixable: Recommended Reading

May 30, 2012, 9:51 PM, Posted by

"Can people easily get to work by using public transportation? Can kids walk and bike to school safely? When they get to school, do these kids have healthy food options? This shift in thinking and action is the X factor: converting personal motivation into community transformation."

Those questions and more paint a new picture of the path to a healthier nation. An essay by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation President and CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey argues that instead of focusing on treating disease, we should keep people out of the doctor’s office in the first place by investing in proven, community-based prevention efforts.

As part of an online discussion series in the Atlantic about how to solve the health care crisis, Lavizzo-Mourey discusses the economic arguments for prevention and offers several examples of places in the United States where health is regularly considered in community planning and policy decisions, resulting in increased opportunities for better health. Some of the startling statistics shared in the piece include:

  • A disproportionate share of the $2.6 trillion we spend on health care each year goes toward treating the sickest people.
  • For every dollar spent on health care, less than four cents goes toward public health and prevention.
  • Spending just $10 per person per year in proven community-based programs to increase physical activity, improve nutrition, and prevent smoking could eventually save more than $16 billion a year.

>>Read Risa Lavizzo-Mourey’s essay and catch up on the Atlantic’s “America the Fixable” health care debate here.

>>Catch up on the Atlantic’s “America the Fixable” health care debate.

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF New Public Health blog.