Washington State
Nutrition & Physical Activity Plan

About the Plan and the 2008 Update

The Vision

Washington residents will enjoy good nutrition, have active lives, and live in healthy communities.

The Purpose

The purpose of the Washington State Nutrition and Physical Activity Plan is to provide a framework in which policy makers at the state, local, and institutional levels can work together to support and build environments that make it easier for Washington residents to choose healthy foods and to be physically active to:

  • Slow the increase in the proportion of adults and children who are obese.
  • Reduce rates of chronic diseases that are associated with obesity.
  • Improve quality of life.

Public Health in Washington

Helping communities make changes so people can make healthy choices

Public health uses a systematic approach to understand the conditions that make healthy eating and sufficient physical activity achievable for everyone. While the practice of medicine focuses on individuals, public health focuses on the health of populations and population subgroups. Monitoring and tracking data show relationships between unhealthy behaviors and developing chronic conditions such as obesity, asthma, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer. Public health policy uses effective, tested strategies to address factors that make it hard for people to get the physical activity or healthy nutrition they need. Public health engages partners at the state and local level to implement those strategies.

Updating the Plan


The first plan was developed in 2001 and 2002. It was based on a series of meetings with advisors who represented a wide variety of agencies and approaches to food and nutrition, physical activity, transportation and community development. This advisory group used a strategic planning process to consider broad-based approaches to obesity prevention. Across the state, agencies and organizations agreed to champion parts of the plan that were within their scope of work. Between 2003 and the end of 2007 more than 600 stakeholders identified themselves as “partners of the plan” and 175 articles about their progress were published on the Washington Partners in Action Web site – WaPartnersInAction.org.

In 2007, Washington State Department of Health and the University of Washington Center for Public Health Nutrition collaborated to update the plan. The statewide partners conducted in-depth interviews, online surveys and correspondence with members of the original advisory group and many others who use the plan. In addition, we searched medical and public health peer-publications for updates on policy and environmental approaches and sought out the latest evidence based recommendations from government and professional organizations. Each of the six chapters of the plan objectives and priority recommendations was reviewed extensively by key stakeholders throughout the updating process.

New to the Plan in 2008

  • Role of families and individuals
  • Role of the healthcare sector
  • New examples chosen from hundreds of initiatives across that state to illustrate how policy and environmental changes can make a difference
  • Call-out boxes highlight cultural competence, provide new data and suggest communication approaches
  • Importance of working with partners and coalitions

New resource appendices

The Healthcare Sector

In 2007, the Department of Health formed a Primary Prevention Advisory Committee including internal and external stakeholders for the purpose of developing recommendations for how clinical medicine can participate in this state public health plan. The healthcare sector is diverse and includes healthcare providers, health plans, and academia. All have roles to play in the prevention of obesity and chronic diseases and can be important partners to communities, worksites, and schools. The revised Washington State Nutrition and Physical Activity Plan includes strategies and examples of policy and environmental approaches within the healthcare sector.