Director Frieden talks about prevention
Dr. Frieden met with members of the Task Force on Community Preventive Services during our February meeting in Atlanta last week. It’s been great to see the increased appreciation of evidence under Dr. Frieden’s leadership. Frieden knows firsthand from his work as Commissioner for Public Health in NYC that it is critical to take bold steps in prevention (like his and Mayor Bloomberg’s move to require most restaurants to post calorie counts) and then to collect data necessary to determine impact. They showed that posting calorie counts resulted in substantive alterations in what people chose to eat and linked that to reduce heart disease deaths.
He talked about several topics important for public health and schools of public health and should be considered in this week’s discussions of health care reform. He said we should focus on things that make a difference in prevention-particularly, tobacco, diet, physical activity and injury prevention — we should build the evidence base for implementation, and program planners and others should use evidence-based interventions. Frieden also said we need to put the spotlight on results of what we do on people’s lives and cycle time to get things out. I could not agree more! He also said we must prove that prevention is a best-buy.
Lately, some of my colleagues have complained the Guide to Community Preventive Services doesn’t get one smoothly from evidence to evidence-based interventions. That’s partly because we’re still building the implementation piece and partly because the Guide wasn’t meant to be a compendium of programs or one stop shopping for evidence and programs. NCI‘s PLANET is a first step in that regard. None of these systems are perfect, and we are a pitifully long way from having a warehouse or even a boutique where someone can easily select interventions. Hmmm. Now, maybe there’s an idea!
Excellent Zollicoffer Lecture
I try to attend the Zollicoffer Lecture, at the School of Medicine, every year, because the topics focus on health disparities. They began with a tribute to Larry Keith who died earlier in the week. Larry probably did more than anyone at UNC to increase diversity among medical students. Felicia Mebane, PhD, our assistant dean for students, had been working with him on a new pipeline program to attract minority students to our School. He is a real loss to us all.
Wanda K. Nicholson, MD, MPH gave an excellent lecture, titled, “Thirty Years of Maternal Obesity: Looking Back While Moving Forward.” She focused on the period around pregnancy and childbirth as a teachable moment for behavior change, especially weight loss. It was a very good talk and consistent with principles we espouse in health behavior change. She’s a terrific addition to the UNC faculty, having recently come here from Johns Hopkins.
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