One area that the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) discusses most with members of Congress is how to prevent disease (and even reverse it). Regardless of where Congress members are from, which party they’re affiliated with, or the makeup of their district, they know people are sick and tired of being sick and tired.
While there are different approaches to managing health and preventing chronic diseases, which are long-lasting health issues often brought on or made worse by poor lifestyle and diet, prevalence continues to increase. Approximately half of Americans have a chronic disease, and chronic disease is responsible for seven out of 10 deaths every year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that improving diet, increasing exercise, and quitting smoking would prevent 80% of heart disease, strokes, and type 2 diabetes, as well as 40% of cancers.
When we speak with members of Congress and their staff, they tell us about the challenges they see in their districts. Those same chronic diseases are also within their own offices, as the stressors of life and work make us even more susceptible to unhealthy behaviors, such as too much stress, poor diet, lack of quality sleep, lack of exercise, too much alcohol, and smoking, which are all at the root of our global health crisis.
How Congress supports the role of Health Coaches in reducing chronic disease
Six years ago, Congressman Tim Ryan (D-OH) wrote a letter to Health Coaches, noting the positive impact they have on people’s lives and the important role they have in reducing chronic disease in the population. That simple letter of recognition from a single member of Congress helped pass the resolution S.Res.67 – Expressing Support for Health and Wellness Coaches in the United States Senate just a few years later.
This resolution officially recognizes the health and wellness coaching community. Furthermore, the United States Senate unanimously passed a bill that “supports the efforts of the health and wellness coaches of the United States in their important work to improve the health and wellness of the people of the United States.” IIN worked with Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) to pass this bill.
IIN has also been working with Representative Donald Payne Jr. (D-NJ), the co-chair of the Men’s Health Caucus, on several initiatives, including how we can help reduce health disparities within race and geography. Additionally, we are working with Congressman Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), another chair of the Men’s Health Caucus, on strategies to empower men to pay better attention to their well-being and prevent the development of chronic disease.
Working with Congress to make a difference
If we want to be the ripple that turns into waves, bringing massive positive change, it is important to be involved on an interpersonal level with those around us and those beyond our reach by changing health policies.
Here are some ways to advocate for the health coaching community:
Support IIN and the International Association of Health Coaches (IAHC).
Sign this petition to have a letter sent to the United Nations in support of Health Coaches playing a significant role in reducing lifestyle-related chronic diseases.
Contribute to our Health Coach Political Action Committee.
If in the United States, remember to VOTE! Find your polling place here.
We know how valuable Health Coaches can be in the healthcare system to help bridge the gap between doctors and patients and provide the support and resources patients need to reach their health goals. IIN is committed to the success of every graduate making a difference in their communities, and this advocacy work aims to further support our graduates in all that they do.
Darrell Rogers began his career in Washington, D.C., 20 years ago and has worked for members of Congress and several notable nonprofit organizations and political campaigns. More recently, his work has been committed to protecting and promoting holistic healthcare access. Every month, we’re sharing the notable work that Darrell is doing in Washington, D.C., to increase the visibility and recognition of Health Coaches.