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The Top 5 Takeaways for Patients at the Building a Healthier Future Summit

Updated: 8/14/21 9:00 amPublished: 4/29/14

By Jenny Tan, Hannah Martin, and Nancy Liu

twitter summary: What do Michelle Obama, soda, and cities have in common? All were part of our top 5 takeaways from PHA.

short summary: This year at the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) conference, Michelle Obama reminded us that home-cooked meals are the “single most impactful way” for a family to improve their health. How inspiring! We also learned about different initiatives across the US working to address childhood obesity, the ways that PHA partners with different organizations to promote health, and industry taking steps to make food healthier and more nutritious. However, reducing obesity requires commitment and cooperation– a good reminder for all of us to keep on advocating for better food for our children and for ourselves.

From March 13-14, the diaTribe team traveled to Washington DC to attend the Partnership for aHealthier America (PHA) Building a Healthier Future Summit to learn more about the battle to end childhood obesity. From Michelle Obama’s riveting keynote, new PHA partnerships, to exciting initiatives across America to improve health, we took away the top five takeaways most relevant for patients and how you can make a difference.

  1. First Lady Michelle Obama reminded us that home-cooked meals are the “single most impactful way” for a family to improve health. We were struck by Mrs. Obama’s captivating keynote on the importance of home-cooked meals and the focus on how people can become healthier by taking simple steps at home. She highlighted that meals at home typically have fewer calories, less fat, and less cholesterol than food eaten out. Although many people claim lack of time and money are barriers to cooking, the real issue is often the lack of basic kitchen skills that could save time and money.

  2. Cities and policymakers across America are working to improve health. Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter presented his mission of eliminating sugar-sweetened beverages in all schools and homes and reducing the number of vending machines in schools. Meanwhile, the charismatic Senator Cory Booker from New Jersey emphasized the importance of including different stakeholders in the fight against obesity. As we learn about initiatives from the soda ban in New York City to the proposed soda tax in our hometown of San Francisco, we hope that more policy makers across America join in on the fight against obesity.

  3. PHA works across sectors to end childhood obesity – this includes the food industry, pharmaceuticals, companies, consumers, schools, and families. It was exciting to hear PHA announce 11 new partnerships that ranged from companies working to increase fitness options (FirstBIKE), limit screen time (Knowledge Universe), introduce healthy eating programs (Sodexo, Eskenazi Health, Meridian, St. Luke’s Hospital, UnityPoint Health - Trinity), and run healthy eating marketing campaigns (Nutri Ventures, Del Monte). PHA has done a powerful job of working with industry and across a broad spectrum of areas – we look forward to hearing about the impact of these partners over the coming year.

  4. Industry is secretly making food healthier – but the change ultimately comes from you. Many PHA partners pledged to improve their product’s nutritional context, but what we heard over and over again at the conference was the power of consumers demanding healthier and more nutritious products. Industry has only been changing because we are pushing them to improve – and we should keep on working!

  5. Reducing childhood obesity requires sustained commitment and dedication. We walked away from the conference with Michelle Obama’s words ringing in our ears – “When it comes to our children’s future, we cannot walk away until obesity rates drop for every age and every background… until every child has a shot at a healthy life… I’m in it for the long haul even after I leave the White House.” We admire her dedication to improving the health of Americans and couldn’t agree more. It looks like the First Lady has plenty of ideas for her time once the president steps down, and we only hope that she continues her inspiring work at PHA.


Interested in learning more about Partnership for a Healthier America? Please read our previous update on Building a Healthier Future Summit 2013, our letter from the editor on PHA and childhood obesity, and our interview with Larry Soler and Dr. James Gavin of PHA.

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