Washington State
Nutrition & Physical Activity Plan

Using the Plan

The plan includes six objectives, three for nutrition and three for physical activity. There are 15 priority recommendations to meet these objectives. Each priority recommendation includes examples. These examples are not meant to be prescriptive, but to illustrate policies in action. The reference section provides links to more information about the strategies.

Agencies, institutions and groups involved in these efforts will champion the priority recommendations in their own work plans. The plan will stimulate new ideas, partnerships and coalitions, and will be used by policy makers across the state to take actions to prevent further increases in obesity.

Overarching Strategies

Each priority recommendation includes these essential ingredients for success:

Working with Partners

Genuine solutions to the challenging problem of obesity require the concerted effort of many partners and collaborators. The department continues to provide essential leadership for obesity prevention efforts. Other state agencies including the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, the Department of Social and Health Services, the Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Transportation have joined in these efforts. Professional associations and advocacy groups contribute by educating their members about the issues, developing effective policies to support the plan and helping to implement these policies in communities throughout Washington.

In 2002 the City of Moses Lake began piloting the plan strategies through its Healthy Communities projects. Since then more than a dozen communities across Washington have launched their own Healthy Communities projects that identify, promote and implement local plans for changes in policies that will make healthier choices easier in their communities.


The department and the partner agencies for this plan are committed to using effective communication to make sure that individuals and policy makers within communities and institutions are aware of the importance of making the healthy choice the easy choice. This plan is a springboard for promoting nutrition and physical activity in the media and at state and local meetings and conferences. Awareness campaigns contribute to the success of environmental and policy changes.(7) For instance, signs and media coverage increase the use of trails and paths in a community. Awareness campaigns help potential partners and the public understand why the activities outlined in this plan are important and how they are being implemented.

Cultural Competence and Health Disparities

Environmental and policy changes can help reduce health disparities in Washington. The first step is cultural competency. The US Office of Minority Health says that “cultural competency is one of the main ingredients in closing the disparities gap in health care.” Health disparity, or health inequity, refers to “large and persistent gaps in health status.” Many different populations are affected by disparities including racial and ethnic minorities, residents of rural areas, women, children, the elderly, and persons with disabilities.

Nutrition and physical activity are perceived differently across cultures within the state. Real changes in nutrition and physical activity behaviors cannot happen unless health promotion efforts are culturally competent. Five essential elements contribute to the ability of a system, institution, or agency to become more culturally competent.(8) These must have:

  • A value of diversity.
  • The capacity to assess the ability to serve diverse populations.
  • Knowledge, attitudes, and skills to deal effectively with the dynamics inherent when cultures interact.
  • Institutionalized cultural knowledge.
  • A service-delivery process that deals effectively with cultural diversity.

The department and its partners will proceed with respect and awareness of differences in the way nutrition and physical activity are perceived and the way behavioral choices are made. Examples of culturally competent approaches are included with each objective.

Assessing Needs and Measuring Progress

Public health has a responsibility to track the impact of changes as the plan is put into action, and to share successes and lessons learned. The Department monitors progress on the plan’s objectives and communicates results with partners and stakeholders.

Overarching Strategies

Each priority recommendation includes these essential ingredients for success: