The Truth About the Prevention and Public Health Fund

June 2013

The Truth about the Prevention Fund, a new report of key facts about the Prevention and Public Health Fund, includes an overview of the Fund, which is the nation’s largest single investment in prevention, using evidence-based and innovative partnership approaches to improve the health of Americans.  The Fund provides more than $14.5 billion in mandatory appropriations over 10 years to improve health and prevent chronic illnesses by expanding preventive care and supporting proven community-based programs that reduce obesity, tobacco use and other preventable conditions.

Currently, more than half of Americans suffer from chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.  Two thirds of Americans are currently obese or overweight and nearly 20 percent of Americans smoke.  Obesity costs the country $147 billion and tobacco use $96 billion in direct healthcare costs each year.  A 2012 TFAH study found that if obesity rates continue on their current trajectory, half of Americans could be obese by 2030, and the rise in obesity-related healthcare costs could reach between $196 billion and $213 billion in direct medical costs.

“Today’s kids could become the first in American history to live shorter, less healthy lives than their parents,” said Jeffrey Levi, PhD, executive director of TFAH.  “We can resign our kids to that fate – or invest in proven, effective programs to reduce obesity, tobacco use and the prevalence of preventable chronic conditions.  The Prevention Fund is the best and most targeted effort the nation has made toward getting the health of this country back on track.”

The Prevention Fund invests in programs that are proven and effective.  Oversight and evaluation is a key component of every Fund-sponsored program, and strict performance measures ensure accountability before federal dollars are spent.   The Fund supports community-driven prevention efforts targeted at reducing tobacco use, increasing physical activity, improving nutrition, expanding mental health and injury prevention programs and improving prevention activities. 

For instance, for one component of the Fund – the Community Transformation Grants (CTGs) – grantees are required within five years to reduce by 5 percent death and disability due to tobacco use; the rate of obesity (through nutrition and physical activity approaches); and death and disability due to heart disease and stroke.  States and local communities have the flexibility to decide what problems are most pressing for them to address and decide which approaches to use as long as they are evidence based.  All grantees are expressly forbidden from using any funds for lobbying.  U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has initiated extra controls to ensure grantees are restricted from ever using funds on prohibited lobbying activities and has mechanisms in place to identify any violations.  No such violations have been confirmed.  

“Obesity, tobacco-use and other preventable health problems are crippling this nation.  The Prevention Fund provides states and communities with the flexibility to address their most pressing health challenges. We will never be successful unless we invest in programs and approaches we know work,” said Levi.