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HHS, Park Association Form Partnership

HHS recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) to promote greater use of community-based health education and physical activity programs in recreation and park facilities. The effort is being undertaken to help fight the national epidemic of obesity and physical inactivity.

Physical inactivity and obesity are the top two leading health indicators for Healthy People 2010. They increase the risk for heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, certain cancers and other illnesses. Both have increased dramatically in the U.S. in recent years. According to recent statistics, less than a third of American adults engage in the recommended 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days of the week, while 61 percent of adults are now overweight or obese.

Besides the NRPA, those signing the MOU were the President's Council on Physical Fitness and, for HHS, NHLBI, NIDDK and CDC.

The MOU calls for HHS and NRPA to improve public health by encouraging Americans to become physically active and reduce overweight and obesity. The new partnership's efforts will include the creation of community programs for children, families and seniors, as well as the removal of environmental barriers to physical activity such as those for the disabled.

NRPA is a nonprofit group that represents more than 170,000 indoor and outdoor facilities. NHLBI has collaborated with NRPA for almost a decade. The two established a Hearts N' Parks program, which now offers physical activity and nutrition education activities through 50 magnet centers across the country. The new MOU will expand on that effort and provide more opportunities for Americans to engage in physical activity.

Shown at the MOU-signing event are (front, from l) NHLBI director Dr. Claude Lenfant, NRPA President Marvin Billups, HHS assistant secretary for health Dr. Eve E. Slater, and HHS assistant surgeon general and acting deputy assistant secretary for disease prevention and health promotion Dr. Woodie Kessel. In the second row are (from l) NIDDK director Dr. Allen Spiegel, President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports Executive Director Lisa E. Oliphant, and director of the CDC's Washington office Donald Shriber.

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