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IHRSA Advocate

The IHRSA Advocate is your guide to knowing and understanding the policies that influence daily health club operations. We analyze the action, so you know when to take your own.

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Entries in primary prevention (4)


IHRSA Calls on Policy Makers to Prioritize “Primary Prevention”

Helen Durkin, IHRSA’s Executive Vice President of Public Policy, has two words for lawmakers: primary prevention.

In an op-ed in Roll Call, a respected DC publication read by lawmakers and aides, Durkin explains the importance of primary prevention (i.e. healthy behaviors like exercise and eating a proper diet) to reducing health care spending.

She writes: “All the fiscal fighting over health care spending and return on investment in the near-term almost entirely misses the concept of primary prevention, which inherently brings longer-term benefits. Economists deliberate over whether certain cancer screenings save or cost our health care system money within a one-, five- or 10-year window. But few seem to recognize a vital tenet for solving our medical spending problem: Health care doesn’t start in the doctor’s office.”

Read the full op-ed here.


Reuters Misses the Mark on Preventive Healthcare Costs

Reuters recently wrote a story claiming preventive medicine would not reduce U.S. healthcare costs.

Unfortunately, the author's analysis as to why ignores a very important aspect of prevention: primary prevention.

Nowhere does it mention the positive impact healthy lifestyles can have on reducing health care costs.

Helen Durkin, IHRSA's Executive Vice President of Global Public Policy, wrote a response to Reuters (as of this newsletter her response has yet to be published), pointing out the omission. “Behaviors like regular exercise, healthy eating avoidance of tobacco and other controlled substances, along with stress management - should be the foundation of preventive healthcare."

Read the article and Durkin’s full response…


New Report Demonstrates Need for Primary Prevention

America’s “overall health did not improve between 2010 and 2011,” says the most recent edition of an annual report issued by the United Health Foundation, outlining a clear case for primary prevention and community-based solutions to poor health. According to the report, there were decreases in smoking and hospitalizations since last year, but still-too-high levels of tobacco use offset this, and dramatic increases in obesity and diabetes offset any improvements.

The report ranks states based on 23 health indicators including smoking, hospitalizations, obesity and chronic disease. Most worrisome is the fact that these factors are all lifestyle related and highly preventable. According to the report, 27.5% of the population is obese; 17.3% still smoke cigarettes and 8.7% have diabetes.

The report clearly illustrates the need for community-based, primary prevention efforts, most notably more exercise. In an interview with, Dr. Georges Benjamin, the executive director of the American Public Health Association, who helped author the report, said, "Physical activity, nutrition, and tobacco: If we could get people focused on those three, we could take a huge bite out of the chronic disease epidemic," he said."This is not an infinite list of things that people have to address."

Read the full report.

“This report is an affirmation of IHRSA’s mission to promote primary prevention and healthy lifestyles,” said Helen Durkin, IHRSA’s Executive Vice President of Global Public Policy. “America needs to be more physically active, and health clubs are ideal resources to meet this need.”


IHRSA's New Year's Resolution for Congress

In the spirit of the industry, IHRSA challenged the 112th Congress to make a resolution, asking all of its lawmakers to support disease prevention efforts and healthy lifestyles.

"As the 112th Congress gets under way, it's expected that the continued debate over health care reform will consume a great deal of political energy," said Joe Moore, IHRSA's president and CEO, in a press release. "We want to ensure that both Republicans and Democrats alike understand and remain vigilant to the cost-saving role that effective disease prevention measures can play in the health care delivery system."

Exercise is an integral part of disease prevention and obesity.

IHRSA is looking forward to working with you, Congress and other IHRSA members during the coming year to ensure that policymakers recognize the powerful health and economic benefits of exercise.