Investing in Prevention: A National Imperative
Introduction: A Letter from William Rosenzweig & Derek Yach
A healthy society begins with healthy people. Healthy communities provide more economic opportunity for all their residents. Healthy citizens are more creative, productive, and resilient. A nation that is truly committed to promoting health and preventing disease reaps the greatest return on its investment: longer and healthier lives for all its citizens and a thriving, productive society.
There is ample evidence that the short- and long-term economic competitiveness of the United States is directly linked to the health of our workforce. A healthy workforce has the power to improve economic growth, national security, and global competitiveness. It can maximize worker productivity, spur unparalleled innovation, and reduce economic drag as fewer resources are allocated toward treating costly preventable diseases. The impact of an unhealthy workforce on economic and personal well-being spans beyond our lifetime and affects future generations, generations that are already threatened by a shorter lifespan than we have today.
The Vitality Institute convened the Commission on Health Promotion and the Prevention of Chronic Diseases in Working-Age Americans in 2013-14 with the goal of placing the power of evidence-based prevention at the center of health policies and actions in the US. The Commissioners, a nonpartisan group of distinguished thought leaders from the private, public, and social sectors, developed five catalytic recommendations to improve the health of the working-age population nationwide. We thank the Commissioners for their valued input and commitment to the Commission’s research and recommendations.
Fulfilling the Commission’s Vision—Health should be embraced as a strategic imperative across sectors and as a core value in society—requires trusting partnerships among disparate sectors and communities. It necessitates alignment between public and private sector voices to strengthen and amplify the rationale and message of prevention. It requires shifting resources to invest in prevention science, where we see exciting opportunities ranging from greater support for prevention research within the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the private sector, to the application of behavioral economics and new developments in personalized technologies that hold promise for promoting health. Finally, it encourages employers to value their most important source of capital—the health and wellbeing of their workforce—which we hope to see reflected in the integration of workforce health metrics into financial reporting.
Implementing the recommendations of the Vitality Institute Commission requires cross-disciplinary collaboration and commitment. We must be both urgent and patient in our intention to generate positive impacts. Each improvement in health may seem minuscule, but in aggregate, they create a meaningful cultural force that has potential to improve the health and thereby the competitiveness of America and its diverse population for our generation and generations to come.
read the full Commission Report: click here
William Rosenzweig, Commission Chair, Vitality Institute
Derek Yach, Executive Director, Vitality Institute