National Public Health Week: Start Here

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This week is National Public Health Week (NPHW). During the first full week of April every year, National Public Health Week recognizes the contributions of public health and highlights issues that are important to improving our nation. The theme for National Public Health Week (NPHW) 2014 — Public Health: Start Here – will draw the nation’s attention to topics including school nutrition, disaster preparedness, prevention, food safety and community health.

National Public Health Week 2014

From the food we eat to the air we breathe and the water we drink, public health is everywhere, every day. From the transportation we take to the broader communities where we live, work and play, public health is the foundation of a healthy society. The opportunities ahead of us are both awesome and overwhelming.

Here are this year’s daily themes for National Public Health Week:

  • Monday, April 7th: Be Healthy from the Start
  • From maternal health and school nutrition to emergency preparedness, public health starts at home.
  • Children eating healthy
  • Breastfeeding is recommended for at least the first year of a child’s life, and exclusively for the first 6 months. Longer lifetime durations of breastfeeding are associated with decreased risks of maternal breast cancer, ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, many chronic conditions such as obesity, type 1 diabetes, and leukemia, as well as a decreased risk of many common childhood infections and sudden infant death syndrome [1].
  • Globally, an estimated 43 million preschool children were overweight or obese in 2010. Children’s early-life experiences, such as lack of breastfeeding, too-little sleep and too-much television can increase the risk of obesity later in life. That’s why early child care providers have such a crucial role to play in turning around the obesity epidemic [2].
  • Empower your community to take action at home through better meal planning, conducting safety upgrades and preparing for emergencies.
  • Some ideas:
    • The most effective way to encourage breastfeeding among soon-to-be or new mothers is education. Encourage growing families in your community to attend educational seminars on breastfeeding that outline best practices and benefits.
    • Child care providers are in a unique position to initiate healthy eating and exercise habits among young children and encourage similar behavior at home. Create an information-sharing group with local child care facilities and schools to distribute information on healthy eating for young children.
    • Create local events in your community for families that focus on healthy eating and nutrition. Invite families to share healthy recipes or talk about ways to make household favorites more nutritious.
  • Tuesday, April 8th: Don’t Panic
  • Disaster preparedness starts with community-wide commitment and action. Share tips for disaster preparedness with your community so they can take steps at home to plan ahead for the unexpected.
  • Emergency prepardness checklist
  • Visit the APHA Get Ready campaign to learn more and help Americans prepare themselves, their families and their communities for all disasters and hazards, including pandemic flu, infectious disease, natural disasters and other emergencies.
  • Some ideas:
    • Gather your household for a night of emergency preparedness: make plans for putting together an emergency stockpile kit (see the American Red Cross page “Get a Survival Kit”), create a crisis communication plan, designate an emergency meeting place and hold household emergency drills.
    • Promote awareness of how local public health systems keep communities healthy at home, such as keeping our food and water safe. Encourage residents and leaders to take a moment to imagine how dramatically our lives would change if that system disappeared. Let your key decision-makers know that you support public health and prevention.
    • Get the annual flu vaccine. Immunization is perhaps the best method to reduce the occurrence of flu in the community.
  • Wednesday, April 9th: Get Out Ahead
  • Prevention is now a nationwide priority. There are more options than ever when it comes to preventive health measures.
  • Preventive health measures
  • Today, seven in 10 deaths in the U.S. are related to preventable diseases such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer. Public health and clinical health professionals must work collaboratively to help individuals identify and pursue the best preventative health options.
  • Some ideas:
    • Take part in national health observances. Share the information with your community so they can participate in events and learn more about prevention and treatment.
    • Diabetes prevention is as basic as eating more healthfully and becoming more physically active. Making simple lifestyle changes may help you avoid the serious health complications of diabetes in the future.
    • Learn about cancer screening guidelines and make sure you, your family, and community are aware of them. Schedule your screenings in advance and visit the American Cancer Society website for more information.
  • Thursday, April 10th: Eat Well
  • The system that keeps our nation’s food safe and healthy is complex. We can guide you through the choices.
  • Eat well
  • The Affordable Care Act extends to the food safety system and information with new requirements for food labeling. Under the new law, restaurants are required to list the number of calories in each standard menu item, must put the caloric content in context, additional nutritional information must be made available to consumers and the number of calories per serving must be visible on self-service foods.
  • Dietary Guidelines for Americans emphasize three major goals: balance calories with physical activity to manage weight, consume more of certain foods and nutrients such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free and low-fat dairy products, and seafood, and consume fewer foods with sodium, saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, added sugars and refined grains [3].
  • Some ideas:
    • Sponsor a community wide “meatless Monday” where everyone forgoes meat for one day to help individuals and families learn how to cut back on fats and enjoy adding more fruits and vegetables into their diets. Share recipes and snacks that are plant-based.
    • Support local farmers markets and other access points to fresh fruits and vegetables. It’s not only good for your health; it’s good for the local economy too.
    • Work with local schools to help them educate children on healthy eating habits early. Encourage community members to volunteer to serve healthy lunches and breakfasts to school aged kids.
  • Friday, April 11th: Be the Healthiest Nation in One Generation
  • For the first time in decades, the current generation isn’t as healthy as the one that came before. Communities need to band together to take a stance against this disturbing trend to make sure that children and young adults have bright, healthy futures.
  • Be the healthiest nation in one generation
  • Some ideas:

Highlight HEALTH recognizes and supports National Public Health Week. We are all living examples of the public health return on investment. Join the Movement!


  1. APHA Endorses the Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding. American Public Health Association. Accessed 2014 Apr 8.
  2. Daycare Is the New Frontier for Obesity Prevention. Harvard School of Public Health. Accessed 2014 Apr 8.
  3. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. Accessed 2014 Apr 8.
About the Author

Jenny Jessen is Principal at Highlight Health Media, which publishes Highlight HEALTH. She is also a senior writer at Highlight HEALTH.