Population Approaches to Improve Diet, Physical Activity, and Smoking Habits

American Heart Association: August 20, 2012

Poor lifestyle behaviors, including suboptimal diet, physical inactivity, and tobacco use, are leading causes of preventable diseases globally. Although even modest population shifts in risk substantially alter health outcomes, the optimal population-level approaches to improve lifestyle are not well established.

Methods and Results—For this American Heart Association scientific statement, the writing group systematically reviewed and graded the current scientific evidence for effective population approaches to improve dietary habits, increase physical activity, and reduce tobacco use. Strategies were considered in 6 broad domains: (1) Media and educational campaigns; (2) labeling and consumer information; (3) taxation, subsidies, and other economic incentives; (4) school and workplace approaches; (5) local environmental changes; and (6) direct restrictions and mandates. The writing group also reviewed the potential contributions of healthcare systems and surveillance systems to behavior change efforts. Several specific population interventions that achieved a Class I or IIa recommendation with grade A or B evidence were identified, providing a set of specific evidence-based strategies that deserve close attention and prioritization for wider implementation. Read More