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Healthcare Reform Starts at Home

WASHINGTON and CHICAGO, July 21 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As healthcare reform becomes an increasing national priority, the American Psychological Association (APA) and YMCA of the USA announced a partnership that provides strategies to help families improve their overall well-being and physical health, and advocates for a comprehensive healthcare system that has a strong approach to chronic disease prevention. The partnership will specifically address the impact individual behaviors such as eating healthy and increasing physical activity can have in reducing risk factors for chronic diseases.

A recent report by the Trust for America's Health (TFAH) indicates that obesity rates continued to rise last year, despite increased attention to the issue. TFAH makes recommendations for addressing obesity in health reform and calls out an increase in community-based programs as a key priority.

"Prevention is an important piece of the healthcare puzzle," says psychologist Dr. Katherine Nordal, the executive director for professional practice at the American Psychological Association. "Taking personal responsibility for your health and changing unhealthy behaviors are immensely important to prevention of chronic illnesses."

The partnership was created because of the complementary aspects of APA's Mind/Body Health Public Education Campaign and the YMCA's Healthy Family Home initiative. The partnership is intended to help parents and caregivers better understand how to provide emotional support for their families in ways that encourage lifestyle and behavior change, and to help them understand how their home environment can impact these changes.

"Healthy habits start at home. But unfortunately many families struggle to find a balance that allows them to maintain a healthy lifestyle," said Lynne Vaughan, senior vice president and chief innovation officer for YMCA of the USA. "Our goal is to provide families with tools and resources to incorporate these healthy behaviors into their daily routines so they don't feel the added stress of having to do something extra in their already hectic day."

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 34 percent of adults and 17 percent of children are obese. Changes in behaviors such as diet and activity are key elements in overcoming obesity and its associated conditions. Together, APA and the YMCA will offer strategies and tools for addressing unhealthy lifestyles and behaviors that contribute to chronic conditions and help parents increase family motivation toward healthier choices. The collaboration will include activities during the annual YMCA Healthy Kids(R), Day workshops for parents on healthy behaviors and future programs to help individuals and families succeed in their health and well-being goals.

"The initial barriers to behavior change are the hardest threshold to cross," says Jana N. Martin, PhD, a clinical psychologist in Long Beach, California and past-president of APA's Division 42--Psychologists in Independent Practice, which is working closely with APA and the YMCA on this national partnership. "For example, how you eat and spend your time are part of a routine which can be difficult to alter, even if you know it is unhealthy. The first step is to realize that behavior change is a process that needs to be taken one step at a time."

For more information about the role of lifestyle and behavior change in disease prevention and management, visit or follow the APA Help Center at . For ideas about making lifestyle and behavior changes as a family, visit or your local YMCA.

The American Psychological Association, in Washington, D.C., is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world's largest association of psychologists. APA's membership includes more than 150,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance psychology as a science, as a profession and as a means of promoting health, education and human welfare. APA's Division 42, Psychologists in Independent Practice, deals with issues affecting psychological services in all independent practice settings and advocates on behalf of consumers of these services.

YMCA of the USA is the national resource office for the nation's 2,686 YMCAs, which serve 21 million people each year, including nearly 10 million children under the age of 18. YMCAs respond to critical social needs by drawing on their collective strength as one of America's largest not-for-profit community service organizations. Through a variety of programs and services focused on the holistic development of children and youth, family strengthening, and health and well-being for all, YMCAs unite men, women and children of all ages, faiths, backgrounds, abilities and income levels. From urban areas to small towns, YMCAs have proudly served America's communities for nearly 160 years by building healthy spirit, mind and body for all. Visit to find your local YMCA.

SOURCE American Psychological Association
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