Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Statement on Announcement of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act's Prevention and Wellness Fund

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation applauds this bold and confident commitment to reversing the devastation obesity and tobacco use pose to our country’s health and economic well-being. Obesity and tobacco use are the nation’s leading causes of preventable death and disability, causing needless suffering and lessening the quality of life for children and families.

Today, more than two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight or obese, and more than 23 million children and adolescents—nearly one in three young people—are either obese or overweight, putting them at higher risk for serious, even life-threatening health problems. Tobacco kills more than 400,000 Americans each year, and every day another 1,000 kids become daily smokers. One-third of them will die prematurely as a result.

Too often, our health care system is focused on treating people after they’ve become sick instead keeping them healthy in the first place. The Communities Putting Prevention to Work initiative will allow communities to make smart, strategic investments in proven prevention programs that will help people lead healthier lives, increase productivity and even lower health care costs by helping people avoid developing preventable diseases, like type 2 diabetes and hypertension—cutting down on their need for expensive care and trips to the doctor’s office.

As Congress continues to debate how to reform our health care delivery system, today’s announcement makes it clear that prevention and public health must be central pillars of any plan.

Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A.
President and CEO
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change. For more than 35 years, the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime.