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Statewide Health Improvement

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SHIP makes the healthy choice, the easy choice for Minnesotans

In 2008, health reform in Minnesota created the Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) to help Minnesotans live longer, healthier lives by preventing the leading causes of chronic disease: tobacco and obesity.

SHIP achieves this by making it easier to make healthy choices in the places where we live, learn, work and play.  Most people know what they need to do to live a healthier life.  However, too often barriers keep us from making that choice.

SHIP supports local public health across the state to work in their communities employing evidence-based best practices in schools, communities, worksites, and healthcare systems to make real, sustainable, measurable change.

The Affordable Care Act passed in 2010 builds on Minnesota’s work by providing a National Prevention Strategy that aligns with SHIP and provides new resources for these community prevention efforts. 

Why do we need SHIP?

It is crucial that we tackle the top three preventable causes of illness and death in the U.S.: tobacco use/exposure, physical inactivity and poor nutrition. These three factors have been estimated to cause 35 percent of all deaths in the U.S., or 800,000 deaths each year.

How does SHIP help?

Rather than emphasizing programs that may only have short-term results, SHIP seeks to make lasting change in the world in which we live, work and play to encourage healthier behavior. For example, it is important to know the value of walking 30-minutes a day, but if there are no sidewalks, it may be difficult to do. One might decide to eat better, but when the food in the company break room is unhealthy, it’s easy to become discouraged. A parent may decide to keep tobacco away from their children, but when people are smoking around a playground, they may be getting the wrong message.

Examples include:

• Improving nutrition through encouraging healthy vending and concessions at work places, farm-to-school programs, and eliminating “food deserts” where fruits and vegetables are not available in a wide area.
• Increasing walking and biking by encouraging street improvements, “Safe Routes to School” initiatives, and physical activity opportunities throughout the work day.
• Decreasing commercial tobacco use by encouraging tobacco-free grounds at colleges and tobacco-free policies for parks, playgrounds, beaches, and other recreational settings; and reducing secondhand smoke exposure through voluntary smoke-free multi-unit housing policies.

What makes SHIP different from other prevention programs?

Some prevention programs focus on individual behavior change. Behavior change from these efforts can be difficult to sustain beyond the life of the program or the individual’s involvement in the program. But behavior change can be maintained if the environment supports it. SHIP aims to create sustainable, systemic changes that make it easier for Minnesotans to choose healthy behaviors.

Why do we need SHIP?

It is crucial that we tackle the top three preventable causes of illness and death in the U.S.: tobacco use/exposure, physical inactivity and poor nutrition. These three factors have been estimated to cause 35 percent of all deaths in the U.S., or 800,000 deaths each year.

How does SHIP help?

Rather than emphasizing programs that may only have short-term results, SHIP seeks to make lasting change in the world in which we live, work and play to encourage healthier behavior. For example, it is important to know the value of walking 30-minutes a day, but if there are no sidewalks, it may be difficult to do. One might decide to eat better, but when the food in the company break room is unhealthy, it’s easy to become discouraged. A parent may decide to keep tobacco away from their children, but when people are smoking around a playground, they may be getting the wrong message.

Examples include:

• Improving nutrition through encouraging healthy vending and concessions at work places, farm-to-school programs, and eliminating “food deserts” where fruits and vegetables are not available in a wide area.
• Increasing walking and biking by encouraging street improvements, “Safe Routes to School” initiatives, and physical activity opportunities throughout the work day.
• Decreasing commercial tobacco use by encouraging tobacco-free grounds at colleges and tobacco-free policies for parks, playgrounds, beaches, and other recreational settings; and reducing secondhand smoke exposure through voluntary smoke-free multi-unit housing policies.

What makes SHIP different from other prevention programs?

Some prevention programs focus on individual behavior change. Behavior change from these efforts can be difficult to sustain beyond the life of the program or the individual’s involvement in the program. But behavior change can be maintained if the environment supports it. SHIP aims to create sustainable, systemic changes that make it easier for Minnesotans to choose healthy behaviors.

How do risk factors relate to health care costs?

By working to decrease obesity and commercial tobacco use, SHIP seeks to decrease chronic disease. Chronic diseases—such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes—result in an estimated 75 percent of health care spending, and are the leading causes of death and disability in the United States. According to a HealthPartners study:

• Each additional unit of BMI increased medical charges by nearly 2 percent.
• A history of tobacco use was associated with 26 percent higher medical charges.
• Each additional day of physical activity per week reduced medical charges by almost 5 percent.

How will we know if SHIP is effective?

Evaluation and effective outcomes are an essential component of SHIP. Both the Minnesota Department of Health and individual SHIP grantees measure outcomes for the program, and provide information about:

• Health care costs
• Risk factors of tobacco use/exposure and obesity and related chronic disease
• Individual health behaviors linked to tobacco use/exposure and obesity
• Policy, systems and environmental changes that are proven to reduce tobacco use/exposure and obesity
• Activities that move local communities toward those changes