VA and HHS to target
diabetes, obesity among American veterans
WASHINGTON (Feb. 27, 2006) - With obesity and deadly
significantly higher levels among America's veterans,
the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Department
of Health and Human Services (HHS) have announced a
coordinated campaign to educate veterans and their
families about ways to combat these health issues.
"Inactive lifestyles and unhealthy eating habits can
suffering for America's veterans," said the Honorable R.
Nicholson, Secretary of Veterans Affairs. "Obesity and
major threats to the health and lifestyles of our
veterans, deserving a robust campaign to better educate
them on healthy habits."
Veterans are more likely than the general population to
have diabetes, one of the major complications associated
with being overweight. According to the American
Diabetes Association, 7 percent of the U.S. population
has diabetes, and the rate increases with age.
veterans receiving VA health care, who are on average
older than the general population, the rate is 20
"Central to our goal of controlling the cost of heath
care is the
promotion of wellness, fitness and the prevention of
chronic disease. We are working to encourage Americans
to adopt a healthy lifestyle and to take responsibility
for making wise choices to improve their fitness and
health," said HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt.
In a news conference here today, Secretary Nicholson,
HHS Secretary Leavitt, Surgeon General Dr. Richard H.
Carmona and VA Under Secretary for Health Dr. Jonathan
B. Perlin announced the start of a campaign called "HealthierUS
Veterans" - a multi-pronged educational effort to spawn
healthy eating and physical activity among veterans,
their families and members of their communities.
VA medical centers will promote nutrition and exercise
with local groups in 40 communities that receive grants
from HHS in a program called "Steps to a HealthierUS."
"Our service men and women are known for their
extraordinarily high levels of fitness," said Perlin.
"We want our veterans to be identified the same way."
Overweight patients receiving VA health care may
participate in weight loss programs tailored to their
needs. They may also receive pedometers, diet
advisories and "prescriptions" suggesting how much to
walk -- or, in the case of wheelchair users, how much to
The two secretaries also plan to kick off regional
educational campaigns this spring in four cities where
VA and HHS Steps programs collaborate.
celebrities and members of veterans service
organizations will be invited to participate.
In May, the "HealthierUS Veterans" program will
participate with the President's Council on Physical
Fitness during the council's annual rally in Washington.