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40 Proven Strategies to Improve Public Health
Date:8/21/2012

TUESDAY, Aug. 21 (HealthDay News) -- A review of more than 1,000 scientific studies has come up with more than 40 proven strategies for improving public health.

Among the tactics backed up by evidence that were included in an American Heart Association statement: policies that make healthy foods affordable, limits on advertising unhealthy foods to kids, bans on smoking in public and walkable communities.

"Policy makers should now gather together and say, 'These are the things that work -- let's implement many right away and the rest as soon as possible,'" Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, chairman of the statement-writing group, said in an American Heart Association news release. "We have compiled an evidence-based menu of effective interventions for policy makers, stakeholders and the public based on the results of numerous scientific studies."

The statement is published in the journal Circulation.

To write the statement, researchers examined more than 1,000 studies to determine which public-health strategies had the strongest evidence for reducing smoking rates, improving diet and increasing physical activity. They identified 43 interventions with the strongest evidence for effectiveness.

In school, school-garden programs, more playgrounds and structured physical activity were associated with improvements in children's health. At work, wellness programs and breaks for physical activity during work hours have shown effectiveness.

Economic incentives that make healthy foods more affordable and that discourage people from eating unhealthy foods may improve dietary habits, according to the review.

Bans on smoking in public places and increased taxes on tobacco products help curb smoking.

Direct mandates and restrictions on certain ingredients in food, such as salt and trans fats, as well as limiting advertising of unhealthy foods and drinks to children, also have evidence showing they can be e
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