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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:

  • 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.

  • Physical Activity and Nutrition Unit Mission, Vision and Values

    Mission: The Physical Activity and Nutrition (PAN) Unit will ensure every community has optimal opportunity to be physically active, eat nourishing food, and live a lifestyle that promotes physical and emotional wellbeing through prevention and population-level strategies that eliminate health disparities through policy, environmental and lifestyle change.

    Vision: A Michigan where every community has equitable, affordable and accessible opportunities to be physically active and eat healthy foods that support physical and emotional wellness across the lifespan and the elimination of avoidable, unjust differences between groups.


    Community: We are a "home" for people who share a commitment to population health. We believe we have greater potential for impact when we create community to solve problems, share ideas, and explore different perspectives. We understand that public health planning, implementation and evaluation must be:

    • Responsive to community perspectives on health challenges, opportunities, and priorities for action.
    • Attuned to cultural, social and historical contexts that influence community health and receptivity to public health partnerships.
    • Willing to be guided by communities' needs, interests and voices.

    Ethics in Professional Practice: We believe in looking beyond our own interests and pursuing team-centered goals, valuing, and respecting diverse viewpoints and individual differences. We understand that the public trust is gained through decisions based on the highest ethical, scientific and professional standards.

    Science and Evidence-based Decision-making: We believe in science-based decisions. The best policies and practices are ones based on research, with evidence that demonstrates effectiveness. The best innovations come from testing new ideas and approaches. When the needed evidence is lacking, PAN Unit staff seek it, and when the evidence reveals faulty or inadequate practices, PAN seeks to improve those practices.

    Health Equity: We believe in conditions that give everyone the opportunity to reach their best health. This requires valuing all individuals and populations equally. It means addressing inequities in the places where people are born, grow, live, work, learn, and age. We will know we have succeeded when unjust and preventable differences between population groups are eliminated.

    Real Progress in Improving Health: Our efforts will result in measurable health impact with an emphasis on rebuilding trust and enhancing opportunities within communities as part of the progress.

    Physical Activity and Nutrition Unit Goals and Objectives

    The Physical Activity and Nutrition Unit focuses on three key goals which will be achieved by implementing interventions at all levels of the socio-ecological model of change (individual, intra-personal, organizational, and community).


    1. Increase the percent of Michigan adults and youth who meet current federal guidelines for physical activity.
    2. Increase the percent of Michigan adults and youth who consume foods and beverages consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans with an emphasis on fruits, and vegetables.
    3. Reduce the proportion of adults who are obese to meet the goals of Healthy People 2030.


    • Increase the number of Structural, Policy, and Environmental level interventions to affect environments surrounding communities and individuals along with the number of people who have access to them. Structural, Policy, and Environmental level interventions are also opportunities to address social determinants of health within PAN Unit realm of influence (i.e., food security and built environment) and in partnership with state agencies in other realms (i.e., Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) [economic support] or Michigan Department of Transportation).
    • Increase the number of Community level interventions that support groups who have defined geographic, political, cultural, or other common characteristics along with the number of people who have access to them.
    • Increase the number of Institutional and Organizational level interventions to affect rules and policies specific to assemblies of individuals and their relationships along with the number of people who have access to them.
    • Increase the number of Interpersonal level interventions to affect relationships shared within networks of families, peer groups, and friendship-based social networks along with the number of people who have access to them.
    • Increase the number of Individual level interventions to positively influence personal behaviors, knowledge, and beliefs.
    • Facilitate cross collaboration with chronic diseases, other MDHHS programs, and external partners.
  • 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.

    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.

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

  • MI Healthier Tomorrow

    MI Healthier Tomorrow logoTo receive individual support in making the healthy choice, you can visit MI Healthier Tomorrow to make a pledge for health and sign up to receive monthly email support to help you on your journey to live a healthier lifestyle.
    Visit us on Facebook for even more tips.
    Remember: Even the littlest changes to your routine can make a big impact on your lifestyle.

    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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