Spreading the Word That Lifestyle Matters More Than Genes

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.