New HHS Assistant Secretary Addresses Conference

WASHINGTON, DC -- Howard Koh, the newly appointed assistant secretary for health of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), made his first public speech earlier this month at a conference that was originally called for by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).

Koh, who was sworn in on June 22, addressed the National Physical Activity Plan Conference on July 1 in Washington, DC. The conference, organized by Russell Pate of the University of South Carolina, attracted 250 experts in the fields of health and exercise who are working to develop a national physical activity plan scheduled to launch early next year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Prevention Research Center at the University of South Carolina are providing organizational infrastructure for the plan.

The first-ever federal physical activity guidelines were issued last October.

“We have the shared responsibility to make [the guidelines] a reality,” Koh said at the conference. “In many ways, physical activity is a prime example of prevention at its very best.”

Koh works under HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, whom Koh said shares his passion for physical activity as preventive medicine.

Former U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher introduced Koh at the conference.

“Physical activity is not just about saving lives—it’s about quality of life,” Satcher said in his introductory remarks.

According to a survey commissioned by the ACSM, 94 percent of Americans think that a national physical activity plan will help people avoid chronic conditions and diseases, and 97 percent of Americans think there should be changes in the health care system that support disease prevention through physical activity.
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