A Simple and Powerful Call to Action: Healthy Heart Pledge

September 25, 2017
Cornish, Linda
President, Seafood Nutrition Partnership

U.S. Chronic Disease Crisis

What we eat matters and has the greatest impact on our overall health, and dietary patterns that are higher in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean protein such as fish are linked with lower risk of chronic diseases. We all know that eating healthy is important, but it’s hard to adopt at the personal level if our environment doesn’t support our healthy choices. Seafood Nutrition Partnership (SNP) is proud to be a part of the nutrition solution.

At the heart of our public health crisis is the food Americans currently consume. The costly chronic disease epidemic that results in part from unhealthy diets and poor nutrition will be most sustainably addressed through behavior change. Behavior change is difficult at the individual level, and we know it will take a communitywide effort to support healthy lifestyles. SNP is providing an important piece of the solution to America’s public health crisis by building a roadmap for local communities to inspire their citizens to modify their food choices to include sustainable and healthy seafood. Simply, SNP’s mission sits at the nexus of human, environmental, and community health.

Nearly 70% of deaths in the U.S. are preventable through diet and lifestyle changes. Our nation spends roughly 86% of our healthcare dollars on treating preventable diseases, which translates annually to $315 billion for cardiovascular disease, $245 billion for diabetes, and $147 billion for obesity-related medical costs. Currently only one in 10 Americans eat seafood at least twice per week per the Dietary Guidelines and, on average, Americans are taking in just 80 mg of omega-3s EPA+DHA per day, despite recommendations by prominent health organizations to take in at least 250-500 mg of omega-3s EPA+DHA per day.

Seafood Nutrition Partnership: Healthy Heart Pledge

The main call to action for SNP’s Public Health Education Campaign is the Healthy Heart Pledge, which is to try to eat seafood at least twice per week per USDA Dietary Guidelines.
•    To date, 37,000+ people have taken the pledge.

2017 impact surveys show:
•    In the past year, 1 in 3 Americans intentionally added more seafood to their diets to eat healthier.
•    For those that took the Healthy Heart Pledge: almost 60% eat seafood twice per week and over 35% take omega-3 EPA+DHA supplements regularly.

Keys to success:
•   National and local partnerships with influential leaders in business, healthcare, foundations, foodservice, retail, academia, and non-profits.

A simple and poweful call to action: Healthy Heart Pledge

Why Eat More Seafood and Omega-3s?

A diet rich in seafood, such as fish and shellfish, can help prevent many of the fatal diseases that affect Americans. The benefits of a seafood-rich diet are scientifically proven. Studies show eating just 8 oz. of seafood a week reduces the risks of dying from heart disease by about a third. Older adults who have the highest blood levels of the fatty acids found in fish are likely to live longer than those with lower levels. Mothers to be who eat 8 to 12 oz. of seafood each week tend to have children with better outcomes for brain and eye health and are observed to have higher IQ scores. Omega-3s from marine sources have anti-inflammatory properties and are the major building blocks for the cells in the brain, eyes, and heart.

Seafood Nutrition Partnership Public Health Education Campaign

As the leading 501(c)3 nonprofit organization in the U.S. that builds awareness of the health and nutritional benefits of seafood, SNP launched a three-year public health education campaign to help address the country’s public health crisis through public-private partnerships and education outreach programs that inspire Americans to incorporate more seafood and omega-3s into their diets for improved health as per United States Department of Agriculture/Health and Human Services (USDA/HHS) Dietary Guidelines. We are pleased to report that our campaign is working.

SNP built its public health campaign model after other successful models, such as seat belt safety and smoking cessation, and the central program is grassroots outreach conducted in target cities and communities at an elevated risk for chronic disease. The keys to success have been the coalition of local leaders who have come together to help their communities get healthier through nutrition intervention and a simple call to action. Local leaders include elected officials and leaders in the business, healthcare, faith, culinary, academic, and retail sectors who support the campaign, execute interactive events, and educate members of their communities about the health benefits of seafood and how to include it more frequently in daily meals. SNP cities include Birmingham, Alabama; Brunswick, Georgia; Charleston, West Virginia; Indianapolis, Indiana; Jacksonville, Florida; Memphis, Tennessee; and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Our main call to action is for people to take the Healthy Heart Pledge, which is to try to eat seafood twice a week and supplement with omega-3s EPA+DHA as needed. SNP provides support to pledgemakers with monthly eNewsletters, recipes, and coupons.

Since the launch of our public health education campaign, we have secured more than 37,000 Healthy Heart Pledges nationwide. The Department of Commerce–National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Division reported that Americans added almost 1 pound of seafood per person to their diet in 2015. And our 2017 national survey showed that one in three Americans added seafood to their diet in 2016.

We are grateful to partner with local leaders in our target market cities to determine the best outreach strategies needed to get communities to include more seafood and omega-3s in their diets. Our work would not be possible without the support of our key stakeholders: our board, scientific and nutrition advisory council, ambassadors, donors, and partners, all of whom are all making a difference in every aspect of our mission. We look forward to continuing our work as we plan for phase 2 of our public health education campaign. We invite you to join us in this innovative campaign and to learn more at www.seafoodnutrition.org.