Healthy Lifestyles

White heart-shaped plate, with fork on left and knife on right, on blue background

The Michigan Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity (NPAO) Program works to prevent and control obesity and other chronic diseases through healthful eating and physical activity.

This goal will be achieved through strategic public health efforts aimed at increasing the number of policies and standards in place to support physical activity and healthful eating, increasing access to — and use of — environments to support healthful eating and physical activity, and increasing the number of social and behavioral approaches that complement policy and environmental strategies to promote healthful eating and physical activity.

For more information about the work of the NPAO Program, contact Stephanie Levey at 517-335-9595 (e-mail: LeveyS@michigan.gov).

How We Work

The long-term success of the program will rest on its ability to leverage resources and coordinate interventions with multiple partners to address its six principle targets:

  • Increase physical activity;
  • Increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables;
  • Decrease the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages;
  • Increase breastfeeding initiation, duration and exclusivity;
  • Reduce the consumption of high-energy-dense foods; and
  • Decrease television viewing.

The program also emphasizes reducing health disparities related to race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, geography, gender, age, disability, and other factors.

Michigan's NPAO Program encourages implementation of local and statewide interventions based on the Social-Ecological Model, a framework that takes a more holistic approach to the obesity problem, looking at all levels of influence (societal, community, organizational, interpersonal, and individual) that can be addressed to support long-term, healthful eating and physical activity choices. This "systems approach" to overweight and obesity helps communities to develop interventions that include a wide range of individual and institutional stakeholders.

Areas of Focus

Physical Activity: People who are active will live longer and are at lesser risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and some cancers. For people who already have chronic diseases, physical activity can be helpful to manage their conditions. NPAO aims to increase opportunities for people to be physically active through community programs and environmental and policy change. Our hope is to make very easy for Michiganders to be active where they live, learn, work, and play.

Healthy Eating: Eating a diet rich in healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains can decrease the risk for, and complications from, related chronic diseases, cancer and obesity. A healthy diet across the lifespan is important to overall health. It provides the body with essential vitamins and nutrients that are needed for growth and development. The NPAO aims to increase availability of healthy, affordable foods through policy, system and environmental changes partnered with strategies that support consumption of healthy foods.

MI Health Tools: The Michigan Healthy Communities Collaborative, comprised of partner organizations throughout Michigan, has developed online assessments and websites to help promote and support better health for Michigan citizens — in communities, at work, at school, and in places of worship. For more information, visit the MI Health Tools website.

Breastfeeding: The NPAO Program supports the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation of exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, and support for breastfeeding for the first year as long as mutually desired by mother and child. In most circumstances, exclusive breastfeeding is one of the healthiest choices a parent can make for their child.

Healthy Childcare: Early care and education settings, including childcare centers, family and group childcare homes, and informal care, present tremendous opportunities to prevent obesity. Childcare providers play an important role in keeping children healthy and helping them form healthy lifestyle habits early. MDHHS has a number of programs that support childcare providers and families in their efforts to prevent obesity in young children. For more information, visit the MI Health Tools Healthy Childcare website.

Healthy Weight Partnership Listserv: The Healthy Weight Partnership Listserv is hosted by the Physical Activity, Nutrition, and Obesity Unit within MDHHS to share announcements and news about trainings, webinars, and professional development opportunities related to healthy eating and physical activity. It's easy to subscribe. Sign up online.

Overweight and Obesity Surveillance Data

Visit our NPAO Data & Statistics page to see the latest overweight and obesity surveillance data for Michigan residents.

NPAO Success Stories
Online Resources

The Community Guide
The Guide to Community Preventive Services (The Community Guide) is a collection of evidence-based findings of the Community Preventive Services Task Force (CPSTF), which was established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 1996 to develop guidance on which community-based health promotion and disease prevention intervention approaches work and which do not work, based on available scientific evidence. The online guide is a resource to help you select interventions to improve health and prevent disease in your state, community, community organization, business, healthcare organization, or school.

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