Tuesday, February 3, 2009

What is Alaska Doing to Promote Wellness?

Alaska seems to be taking the health of it's residents and employees pretty seriously. Bill Hogan, recently appointed Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services http://www.hss.state.ak.us/, was recently quoted as saying, "Many Alaskans lead less satisfying and less productive lives, and many die prematurely each year because of disability and death caused by tobacco, substance abuse, injuries, obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart disease and sexually transmitted diseases. Most of this is attributable to personal choice involving diet, lack of physical activity and tobacco use. The economic impact of chronic disease alone in Alaska is staggering: an estimated $600 million is spent annually on direct medical services and $1.9 billion estimated in lost productivity. Most of this is preventable, and we can do a better job of screening, diagnosing and treating these conditions. Our major strategies for promoting health and wellness include prevention efforts through education; expanding the health-care workforce; developing a statewide trauma system; working with communities on emergency response planning and preparedness; and assessing and mitigating environmental impacts on health in Alaska".

Alaska HHS has created an Obesity Prevention and Control Program. The mission of the program is to prevent and reduce obesity among Alaskans though the promotion of physical activity and good nutrition. Alaska's obesity rates are currently higher than the national average.

The HHS conducted an interesting work site questionnaire to address what policies and programs are already in place in a variety of workplaces. Results can be found at http://www.hss.state.ak.us/dph/chronic/obesity/pubs/physact/pa_ws.pdf It seems Alaska has it's work cut out for them in creating more current physical activity-related policies, sustainable programs, and accessible environmental supports that would help guide future activity promotion efforts.

If you know about positive programs that are changing peoples lives in Alaska, let us know by sending an email to: juliet@wellnesscorporatesolutions.com

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