Physical Activity Saves Lives

We are hearing about it everywhere, and now there’s even more data to back it up. Two recent studies show physical activity reduces pulmonary disease and heart failure.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has an entire plan — The National Physical Activity Plan — dedicated to making it possible for Americans to be physically active and to live and work in places that support that activity.

For info on how much physical activity is right for you and your family, check out the CDC guidelines — they have them for children and adolescents, adults, and older adults.

Mark Your Calendar — and Be Sure to Stretch – for the 2013 Walking Summit

If there is any question about whether the walking movement in the United States has legs, it will be answered with a resounding yes in October at the 2013 Walking Summit in Washington, D.C.

The health benefits of walking 30 minutes a day, five days a week – including decreasing symptoms of diabetes and depression, increasing bone density and helping lower your risk of cancer – have been shared enthusiastically since the launch of the Every Body Walk! public awareness campaign in 2011.

The 2013 Walking Summit takes that awareness one step further.  Community and organization leaders from across the nation – including Safe Routes to School, WalkBoston, America Walks, and Rails to Trails – as well as academics from the CDC, University of Pennsylvania and Tufts University are coming together to share what works best to invigorate programs, practices and policies in individual communities.

You can register for the Walking Summit, scheduled to run October 1-3 in Washington, D.C., at this site.  An extra bonus:  The discounted early bird registration has been extended to August 19.  Scholarships are also available.

More info on walking and its many benefits can be found on the Every Body Walk! site.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. According to the CDC, 210,203 women in the United States were diagnosed with breast cancer, and 40,589 women died from the disease, in 2008 (the latest year for which statistics are available). With the exception of skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women.

Breast cancer screening can often lead to earlier detection and treatment of the disease. Most health insurance companies pay for the cost of breast screening tests.  For those people worried about the cost, the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP) offers free or low-cost mammograms and education about breast cancer.  You can find out if you qualify here.

In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we are sharing a story of a breast cancer survivor.  Kathleen Tebb, a 39-year-old mother of two children, was diagnosed and had a mastectomy followed by aggressive treatment, including radiation.  With the help of physical therapy, Kathleen was eventually able to resume one of her passions—rock climbing.  Read more about Kathleen’s story here, and check out an interview with her below.


For more stories from breast cancer survivors, check out the latest posts on Kaiser Permanente’s Care Stories Blog.

HHS Announces 2012 Hypertension Control Champions

One year ago, the Department of Health and Human Services, with several key partners, launched the Million Hearts™ national public-private initiative.  Million Hearts aims to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes over five years through behavioral changes and clinical interventions.  One of the most significant contributing factors to cardiovascular disease is hypertension, or high blood pressure.  According to the CDC, nearly one in three American adults (67 million) has high blood pressure, and more than half (36 million) don’t have it under control. Additionally, high blood pressure contributes to nearly 1,000 deaths per day and accounts for nearly $131 billion in direct health care costs a year.

Today, the U.S. DHHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius recognized two health care providers in the United States as 2012 Hypertension Control ChampionsEllsworth (Wis.) Medical Clinic and Kaiser Permanente’s Colorado region.  The designation signifies these two health care providers have had remarkable success controlling hypertension across their patient populations, supported by verifiable data documenting the improvement.  Watch a video of the announcement here.

Since 2008, Kaiser Permanente Colorado’s focus on managing hypertension has resulted in an improvement from an initial member control rate of 61 percent to its current control rate of 82.6 percent.  The average hypertension control rate nationally is around 50 percent.

According to their press release, Kaiser Permanente’s hypertension control strategy has five central components:

  1. Registries: Through data housed within the Kaiser Permanente HealthConnect® electronic medical record, registries are created to identify members with hypertension.
  2. Actionable lists: Kaiser Permanente staff then draft lists to help identify which members did not have their blood pressure under control.
  3. Patient outreach: To reach those newly identified members, Kaiser Permanente nurses and other care team representatives work collaboratively to contact members and encourage them to come into local medical offices for blood pressure checks at least once a year.
  4. Managing blood pressure in the office: Kaiser Permanente primary care teams and clinical pharmacy staff develop long-term medication management programs for members with hypertension.
  5. Eliminating barriers: Members with hypertension are able to receive free blood pressure checks on a walk-in or appointment basis.

In September 2011, shortly after Million Hearts officially launched, Janet Wright, MD, executive director of Million Hearts, joined several other leaders in the heart health space at the Center for Total Health in Washington, D.C., for a summit to address hypertension.  You can see our coverage of that event at these links.

Weight of the Nation: Premieres Tonight (Plus a Few Minutes with Preston Maring, MD)

It’s finally here:  Tonight, The Weight of the Nation premieres on HBO.  Parts one and two air tonight, with parts three and four debuting tomorrow night. HBO has made the broadcast of The Weight of the Nation available for free to cable broadcasters. Check your local listings to see if it is carried in your area. The films also will be available at, where they will be online at 8 pm ET.  They’ll be on HBO’s YouTube channel, as well.

The documentary series on America’s obesity crisis is produced in partnership with the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Institute of Medicine, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, and Kaiser Permanente.

See the trailer for The Weight of the Nation below.   And after that, check out our recent conversation with Preston Maring, MD – the founder of Kaiser Permanente’s farmers markets.  We caught up with Dr. Maring, who is featured in part four of the HBO series, after the screening of the documentary in Washington, D.C.

A Few Minutes with IOM’s Harvey Fineberg at DC Screening of Weight of the Nation

Last week, 600 people attended the Washington, D.C., screening of The Weight of the Nation, HBO’s documentary on America’s obesity crisis produced in partnership with the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Institute of Medicine, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, and Kaiser Permanente. After opening remarks from the producers and partners, the crowd viewed part one in the series, called Consequences. The first part of the four-part series presents an alarming overview of our nation’s weight crisis, where one-third of adults and 17 percent of children and adolescents in the United States are obese.

Being overweight or obese carries increased risk of Type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and coronary artery disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, stroke, osteoarthritis, gallbladder disease, sleep apnea, cancer, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Overall quality of life can be negatively affected as well.

While on hand to live tweet the event, the Center for Total Health blog had a brief conversation with Harvey Fineberg, president of the Institute of Medicine. Harvey spoke about the unique partnership that brought about this documentary, as well as his hope that people who view this series (premiering May 14-15 on HBO) will take what they learn, request screening kits and discussion guides, and get engaged where they live and work to make changes and reverse this epidemic.

Visit here for more information about the documentary. For resources on how to bring healthy changes to your family, community and workplace, visit the Kaiser Permanente Weight of the Nation site. Read more coverage of Weight of the Nation screenings and outreach here.

HBO Documentary Weight of the Nation Previews in Colorado

Launching one of the nation’s largest public health campaigns on obesity to date, HBO has joined with the Institute of Medicine, the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Kaiser Permanente and the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation to produce a series of documentaries called The Weight of the Nation.  The series – whose TEDMED trailer screening earlier this month set Twitter abuzz – examines the obesity epidemic from every angle: agriculture, economics, evolutionary biology, food marketing, racial and socioeconomic disparities, physical inactivity, American food culture and the power of industry.

On Monday, April 16, HBO and Kaiser Permanente Colorado hosted a screening of part four of the series, “Challenges,” on the University of Denver campus. The screening is the first of more than 20 that Kaiser Permanente will host nationwide.

While Colorado is one of the fittest states for adults, it is facing one of the fastest growing childhood obesity rates in the country.  For that reason, the event began with a health expo focused on healthy eating and active living, and the screening was followed by a town-hall panel discussion with local experts and Q&A with the audience.   Below is a brief highlight reel of the evening’s activities.

The town hall discussion was also available to folks at home through Livestreaming. Watch the full presentation at  You can also read more and see photos from the event here.

The Weight of the Nation series debuts on May 14, exclusively on HBO. Further information on the series, the soon-to-be-published book of the same name by St. Martin’s Press, and the nationwide community-based outreach campaign can be found at

What is Total Health?

One of the most interesting aspects of creating the interactive exhibits at the Center for Total Health was interviewing people about their attitudes and feelings about health.  The one question we asked each and every person was this:  What does total health mean to you? We think it’s fitting to kick off this blog by sharing video clips of a few of the answers we received.

In these three videos, we hear from a trio of health experts:  Bill Dietz, MD, PhD, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Mike McGinnis, MD, MPP, with the Institute of Medicine; and Karen Boudreau, MD, FAAFP, with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.


How do you define total health?


Explore the Center for Total Health Take Video Tour