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Daily Dose

Government programs that aid people’s health

As the federal government fully reopens after a 16-day shutdown, some may wonder why we didn’t feel a stronger impact on our daily lives. This raises the question: Do we really need all those government programs from a health standpoint? According to report issued last Thursday , 79 of those public health programs — that receive federal, state, or local funding — are well worth the tax dollars spent on them because they lead to significant health improvements or prevent life-threatening illnesses or injuries.

Here are three worth our taxpayer dollars:

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1. Shape Up Somerville. Aimed at elementary school students in first through third grades, the Somerville program improved nutrition in schools, collaborated with community restaurants, and installed safer walking routes to school. After one year, the average 8-year-old child in the program had reduced excess weight gain by one pound.

2. The Washington State Clean School Bus Program. This simple initiative, which outfits older school buses with tailpipe and crankcase filters to reduce soot emissions, reduced bronchitis, asthma, and pneumonia cases in its child passengers.

3. Tobacco cessation program in Massachusetts. The program to provide smokers with cessation counseling and aids cost $183 per program participant and was estimated to save $571 per person in smoking-related hospital costs.

Deborah Kotz can be reached at dkotz@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @debkotz2.
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