The Georgia Health Policy Center’s Debra Kibbe helped to author the recently released American Cancer Society Guideline for Diet and Physical Activity for Cancer Prevention. Importantly, the guidelines highlight both the need for healthy behaviors to cut cancer risk and the need for community action to support individuals in achieving healthy diet and physical activity goals.
Certain health behaviors, like maintaining a healthy body weight, being physically active, eating a healthy diet, and avoiding or limiting alcohol intake are known to reduce cancer risk. The 2020 guideline updates similar recommendations made by the American Cancer Society in 2012.
Yet, the new guideline also recognizes how community-level factors can support or create barriers to individuals’ ability to adopt these healthy behaviors. It is well recognized that while individual-level adoption of healthy behaviors is challenging, certain populations face additional structural barriers that contribute to health disparities, including low-income, rural, racial and ethnic minority communities.
The recommendations highlight the need for public and private community organizations to work collaboratively at the local, state, and national levels to develop, advocate for, and implement policy and environmental changes that increase access to affordable, nutritious food and provide safe, accessible opportunities for physical activity.
“It is difficult for people to make healthy food choices if there is no local grocery store nearby or for people to walk if there are no sidewalks or safe recreational areas in a community,” says Kibbe. “Community action is needed to create a supportive social and physical environment in order for individuals to have genuine opportunities to choose healthy behaviors.”
Click here to read the full guidelines.