Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Former Florida Surgeon General Launches New Health Initiative In Jacksonville

Florida Department of Health

Jacksonville is ground zero for a new statewide initiative to make Florida 20 percent healthier by the next presidential election.

Creators of a program called “Bold Goal,” which aims to decrease unhealthy behaviors and increase healthy ones by 20 percent, are seeking input from all sectors of the healthcare industry. Some goals include reducing smoking and obesity rates, along with increasing activity.

Former Florida Surgeon General John Armstrong is leading the charge after making it through his own personal health crisis..

“I had my own very human situation as I was continuing to receive chemotherapy for colon cancer. So, I have made it through the treatment,” he said.

Armstrong, who was diagnosed the last year of his tenure in Tallahassee, said now that he’s cancer free, he’s renewing his commitment to public health as a medical instructor at the University of South Florida. He is also an advocate for Bold Goal.

During Armstrong’s tenure, Florida saw its adult obesity rate level off and its smoking rate fall.

Now, the accomplished doctor said he’s focused on helping gather insight from nonprofits, providers and insurers to get the community to buy in.

“Behaviors are driving ill health. So, what is it about those behaviors that we can adjust? I’m convinced that it’s the places and spaces where we live that we can work together to reshape,” he said.

Still, Armstrong conceded, factors likeinsurance coverage orlegislative policy are now out of his hands.

The initiative is the brainchild of Humana Insurance, which is also putting together a Jacksonville Health Advisory Board to implement Bold Goal’s strategy. Doctors, government officials and businesses leaders will sit on that panel.  

Reporter Ryan Benk can be reached at, at (904) 358 6319 or on Twitter @RyanMichaelBenk

Ryan Benk is a former WJCT News reporter who joined the station in 2015 after working as a news researcher and reporter for NPR affiliate WFSU in Tallahassee.