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U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin was in Sacramento on Wednesday to talk up wellness.

About 70 California health advocates and others were on hand at the California Museum as Benjamin unveiled the National Prevention Council's new action plan aimed at helping all Americans stay healthy at all stages of life.

"Health does not occur in the doctor's office or hospitals alone," Benjamin told them. "It also occurs where we work, where we learn, where we play."

All 17 federal departments and agencies on the council will be combining efforts for the first time to reach goals such as increasing tobacco-free environments as well as access to healthy, affordable foods. Benjamin also pointed to the Environmental Protection Agency's work on enforcing the Clear Air Act and preventing asthma.

The plan, which complements efforts already under way, is meant to tackle obesity, tobacco use, health disparities among population groups, chronic disease and other issues. It stresses empowering people themselves, encouraging healthy and safe community environments, increasing preventive services and eliminating health disparities among population groups.

Some examples include businesses running carpool programs to cut air pollution, communities setting up diabetes prevention programs, health care professionals using social media to encourage healthy living, and health care providers hiring more qualified staff from minority groups.

After Benjamin spoke, panelists discussed the importance of getting healthy lunches in schools and eliminating health disparities so people of color are not more likely to be obese or have chronic conditions than the population as a whole.

Others stressed the importance of youth in any health movement.

"We see young people not as a problem," said Olis Simmons, the founder of the Oakland's Youth UpRising. "We see young people as our partners in changing the community."



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