"Health Matters" conference offers solutions, garners commitments

LA QUINTA, Calif. - Former President Bill Clinton closed the 3rd Annual "Health Matters" conference with a call to action for attendees.  "We're here because we think we have the discipline and the ability to translate what we know and what we feel into positive changes in other people's lives," said Clinton during his closing remarks.  

The Clinton Foundation's event  brought together nearly 500 leaders from health care, technology, media, sports, education, business, and public policy to surface solutions and strategies on how to transform health in the United States.  Panels discussed topics ranging from prescription drug abuse prevention to fighting diabetes.  President Clinton also announced a new partnership with food manufacturers to give all children access to healthy food., regardless of economic status.  "All will sell their healthier products at prices no higher than less healthy comparable products to out-of-school time providers."  The news builds on last year's focus on providing healthier lunches while children are in school.  The Boys and Girls Club is the first organization to take full advantage of the healthier out-of-school food options out of the new partnership.  

The conference took other steps to reduce inequities in access to health and wellness, announcing $100 more than $100 million in new investments to make health and wellness accessible to all people in the United States with 30 strategic partners. More than 50 million people across the country will be impacted by these commitments to action.

"One in six American lives will be touched by the investments we are making in health and wellness," said President Clinton. "These 50 million people include kids with better access to healthier food options; college students informed about the dangers of prescription drug abuse and warning signs of suicide; and adults better equipped to manage their health and change their lifestyles to prevent disease."

Attendees also gave updates on progress and success from commitments made last year.  "To make them think about nutritional information, caloric intake, exercise and it's really working wonders," said Dr. Darryl Adams, the superintendent of the Coachella Valley Unified School District.  

Despite all the progress and positive changes made because of "Health Matters," the President believes there's still a lot of work ahead.  "There's a lot to be hopeful about here, but don't kid yourself," said Clinton.  "The reason we're still having this conference and the reason people still show up is that there's also a lot of remaining changes." 

Commitments to action established with the Foundation's Clinton Health Matters Initiative (CHMI) strategic partners will be discussed throughout the day. Key news from CHMI strategic partners at this year's conference included:

· A new partnership with the Jed Foundation to make college campuses safer and support the mental and emotional health needs of students. This partnership is being supported by media partners such as Facebook, which is helping students identify the warning signs of suicide and provide tips for how to help a friend in need, and MTV, which is raising awareness of the dangers of prescription drug abuse.

· A new partnership with the Aspen Institute Sport & Society Program to work with national governing bodies of sport, academia, and others to ensure that all children have access to physical activity and sports. This was discussed at the conference's opening ESPN Town Hall, which included President Clinton and Kobe Bryant discussing key strategies to improve access to sports and physical activity; and commitments from Nike and the United States Olympic Committee to understand how to bring these positive experiences to all children.

· A commitment from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation to expand its work to increase access to healthier foods and physical activity outside, as well as inside school environments.

· An announcement of awards totaling $5 million by the Knight Foundation to winners of their challenge to use digital platforms to take health data and knowledge and bring it to individuals and communities in ways that they can use to improve their own health.

· A partnership with the Palisades Media Ventures and the James Beard Foundation to launch the 800 Calorie Challenge, a national cooking competition that focuses on healthy eating and nutrition.

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