Dr. Jose Szapocznik Discusses Health Care Strategy with President Obama

On a recent two-day campaign trip to Florida, President Barack Obama met with a small group of supporters, including José Szapocznik, Ph.D., professor and chair of epidemiology and public health, in West Palm Beach. In an informal July 19 roundtable discussion, Szapocznik and other participants spoke candidly about the issues that are most important to them.

The nation’s health agenda topped Szapocznik’s list.

Seated across the table from Obama, Szapocznik thanked the President for issuing the first National Prevention Strategy, part of the Affordable Care Act, which was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in June.

“We know that preventing disease before it starts is critical to helping people live longer, healthier lives and keeping health care costs down,” Szapocznik said. “For the first time in its history, the nation has a cross-sector, integrated national strategy that identifies priorities for improving the health of Americans.”

Szapocznik also commended First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative to combat childhood obesity. Through the program, which she leads by example, the First Lady has practiced an active lifestyle, planted a vegetable garden at the White House and convinced large food manufacturers to reduce the amount of sugar in cereals marketed to children.

In his final question, Szapocznik asked the President what his administration will do to tackle the obesity epidemic.

Obama said he supports his wife’s initiatives to promote physical activity and healthier eating through schools, families, media, and manufacturers and retailers of food.

“These are precisely the kinds of interventions that are needed to bring about changes in weight at a population level,” said Szapocznik.

In addition to Obama, Press Secretary Jay Carney and Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the president who oversees the Offices of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs, participated in the roundtable discussion.

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