Earlier this month, Kaiser Permanente presented the Forum for Healthy Behavior Change in Washington D.C., addressing this very question. Along with our co-sponsors, the American Heart Association and the National Business Group on Health, this first-of-its-kind forum brought together over 200 health care leaders and experts, policy makers and community members, who discussed their unique viewpoints about how to effectively support lifestyle changes, such as healthier eating and increased physical activity, in both clinical and community settings.
One of the key concepts that emerged from the forum was the notion that “health starts at home,” emphasizing the need to encourage community members to incorporate healthy habits into their everyday lives, to the point where they become second nature. Of particular interest was the keynote address from Howard Koh, MD, MPH, assistant secretary for health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. He addressed the importance of reaching individuals and families where they “live, labor, learn, play and pray,” stressing that there is an urgent and unmet need to address the growing public health issue of obesity.
Motivating students, staff, teachers and parents in schools is particularly relevant to the idea of creating healthy habits, since schools are where children and staff spend a significant amount of their time. Thriving Schools is a prime example of a program that aims to make the healthy choice the easy choice, by providing ready-to-use tools and resources to school communities at no cost, helping them create a culture of health in their schools. Programs like Thriving Schools highlight the Forum’s goal of helping families design their lives to achieve optimal “default” behavior, and making healthy habits part of their everyday lives and routines.
The video below provides some highlights from the forum, including how to use “baby steps” in ultimately creating successful behavior change.