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What Is the Modern Health Promotion Field?

President John F. Kennedy rolled out the first widespread health promotion program in 1961 when high schools nationwide developed curricula based on guidelines from the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.

“The program produced a measurable improvement in fitness nationwide as well as a shift in public attitudes and wider participation,” according to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. That good news has lost some of its fire in the past 60 years. Americans have become more sedentary and developed appetites for foods made of salt, fat and refined carbohydrates.

More than 80% of individuals older than 65 now have at least one chronic health condition, and 68% have more than two, according to the National Council on Aging. That came into sharp focus when comorbidities proved a significant factor in long-term hospitalization and deaths with COVID-19. Moreover, the grandchildren of those Baby Boomers are starting life in less-than-ideal shape. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that nearly 13% of youth under five are obese, and weight impairs the health of almost 21% of kids between six and their teenage years.

Given those statistics, the National Library of Medicine says that “health promotion is more relevant today than ever in addressing public health problems” and “needs to be built into all the policies … to lead to positive health outcomes.”

Professionals in the health promotion space don’t need a degree in health promotion to be successful, however. Graduates from the Arkansas State University (A-State) online Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Public Health program are well prepared to implement health promotion strategies and use preventative practices in a number of environments, thanks to courses like Preventative Health.

How Does Health Promotion Work With Public Health?

The World Health Organization (WHO) notes the importance of health promotion efforts in public health: “As a core function of public health, health promotion supports governments, communities and individuals to cope with and address health challenges. This is accomplished by building healthy public policies, creating supportive environments, and strengthening community action and personal skills.”

Health promotion is a systemic strategy to improve overall well-being through education about and the development of positive attitudes toward healthy behaviors. However, health promotion can reach individuals of all ages, occupations and demographics in many ways.

A workplace health promotion plan, for instance, might offer smoking cessation, weight management, nutrition and stress reduction programs. Many corporations also subsidize fitness center memberships, provide clinical preventive services and have women’s reproductive health programs.

In the public sector, global enterprises ranging in size from the WHO to local parks and recreation centers support programs that promote health and healthy lifestyles. The CDC, for example, actively supports health promotion in early childhood care centers. The organization helps teachers and parents encourage children to adopt healthy eating habits and participate in fitness, mental health and well-being programs.

Nonprofits like the American Cancer Society (ACS) also are prominent in health promotion. The ACS works with businesses and other nonprofits to develop their own health-promotion programs.

What Is the Career Potential in Health Promotion?

The renewed emphasis on helping people take control of their health and well-being drives the demand for professionals who can inspire others to adopt healthy lifestyles. As a result, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts a 12% increase in career opportunities for health education specialists and community health workers.

A B.S. in Public Health is a surefire means to success in this growing field. Graduates of A-State’s online program acquire in-demand expertise through an online curriculum that builds skills and knowledge in the following areas:

  • Analysis and interpretation
  • Healthcare management and communication
  • Preventative health, environmental health, epidemiology and health policy
  • Health equity and general public health practice and management

Health promotion strategies are essential to public health professionals’ success in the field. Graduates of A-State’s program are prepared for careers in healthcare management, epidemiology, community health, health data science or health education.

Learn more about Arkansas State University’s online Bachelor of Science in Public Health program.

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