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Department of Health and Human Services
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News Release

Thursday, Sept. 18, 2003

Contact: HHS Press Office
(202) 690-6343


HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson today announced 12 grants totaling $13.7 million to promote community initiatives to promote better health and prevent disease. The grants are funded under HHS' new Steps to a HealthierUS program, which aims to help Americans live longer, better, and healthier lives by reducing the burden of diabetes, overweight, obesity and asthma and addressing three related risk factors -- physical inactivity, poor nutrition and tobacco use.

The grants will help to implement community action plans targeting border populations, Hispanics and Latinos, Native Americans, African-Americans, Asians, immigrants, low-income populations, the disabled, youth, senior citizens, uninsured and underinsured people and people at high risk. Recipients of the grants reach 23 communities, including one tribal consortium, 15 small cities or rural communities and seven large cities.

"To successfully achieve better health, we need to reach Americans in the places they live, work and go to school," Secretary Thompson said. "These twelve Steps grant programs are innovative and exciting. From the Michigan tribe increasing its knowledge of traditional foods like fish, berries and wild rice to the expanded walking program in a New York community, each grantee is using creative approaches tailored to achieve success in their individual community."

Diabetes, asthma, overweight and obesity were chosen as targets because of their rapidly increasing prevalence in the United States and the ability for individuals to control and even prevent these diseases through exercise, diet and other strategies. The number of people with diabetes in the United States has nearly doubled in the past decade to 17 million. An estimated 10 million adults and 5 million children suffer from asthma, and the number of cases of obesity in the United States has increased more than 50 percent over the past two decades.

Examples of programs in the school, community, health care, and workplace settings include organized community interventions such as walking programs, health education trainings, and media campaigns; environmental interventions like smoking cessation programs and increasing healthy food choices in schools and educational interventions like enhancing coordinated school health programs. Partners include departments of education and health, various other government agencies, school districts, health care providers, national and local health organizations, faith-based agencies, private sector and academic institutions. Six programs include a YMCA partner and nine include a community health center partner.

Today's announcement builds on a series of activities this week focused on the Secretary's prevention initiative to expand and build on the President's HealthierUS goal of helping Americans live longer, healthier lives. Launched in June 2001 by President Bush, HealthierUS focuses on four core areas for improved health and wellness: physical activity, preventive screenings, balanced nutrition and healthy choices. This week, the Secretary challenged HHS employees to become more physically active through the use of the President's Challenge Web site and convened a roundtable focused on prevention with business leaders. In addition, the department held its second annual "Take A Loved One to the Doctor Day" to encourage minority communities to seek preventive health services.

The Secretary announced the creation of the new community grant program at last April's first Steps to a HealthierUS summit in Baltimore, Maryland. More information about this initiative and the grants is available at

The following grantees were approved for a five-year project period, with the initial year's funding amount. Continuation award amounts will be determined toward the end of the first budget period.


First-year grant funding



Intertribal Council of Michigan






New York








Seattle-King County, Wash.


Salinas-Monterey County, Calif.


Austin-Travis County, Texas


New Orleans, La.


Philadelphia, Pa.


Boston, Mass.


Pinellas County, Fla.



Note: All HHS press releases, fact sheets and other press materials are available at

Last Revised: September 18, 2003

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