CDC Aims for Healthy People, with Mixed Results

The results of a decade-long push by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to promote “healthy people” show promise, but fall short of achieving most hoped-for goals.
The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) launched Healthy People 2010, a comprehensive, nationwide health promotion and disease prevention agenda, in January 2000. The program was initiated with two overarching goals: 1) to increase quality and years of healthy life; and 2) to eliminate health disparities. It included over 900 health objectives, organized into 28 focus areas (see list below), designed to serve as a framework for improving the health of all people in the United States during the first decade of the 21st century.
According to the CDC’s final review of Healthy People 2010, national health data for the focus areas were gathered from more than 190 different data sources, from federal government departments (including HHS, Commerce, Education, Justice, Labor, and Transportation Departments, and the Environmental Protection Agency), and from voluntary and private non-governmental organizations.
A total of 733 objectives were assessed in the final review. Of these:

  • 170 objectives (23 percent) met the Healthy People 2010 targets.
  • 349 objectives (48 percent) moved toward the Healthy People 2010 targets.
  • 39 objectives (5 percent) demonstrated no change from the baseline.
  • 175 objectives (24 percent) moved away from the Healthy People 2010 targets.

Although fewer than one-forth of Healthy People 2012 objectives were realized, the final review concluded, “In general, for each select population group, the number of objectives that moved toward or met the target exceeded the number that moved away from the target.” The final report also concluded that “healthy life expectancy” had improved over the duration of the program, although health disparities did not improve across all racial and socio-economic groups.
HHS has already launched Healthy People 2020, which builds on the ideas of Healthy People 2010 “while breaking new ground in the scope, outreach, and scientific underpinning of the initiative,” according to the CDC. Healthy People 2020 is grounded in four overarching goals:

  1. Attain high quality, longer lives free of preventable disease, disability, injury, and premature death.
  2. Achieve health equity and eliminate disparities.
  3. Create social and physical environments that promote good health for all.
  4. Promote quality of life, healthy development, and healthy behaviors across all life stages.

Healthy People 2020 is organized into 42 topic areas (including the 28 previous areas, with 13 new additions, including adolescent health, sleep health, and health care-associated infections, among others).
Healthy People 2010 Focus Areas:

  1. Access to Quality Health Services
  2. Arthritis, Osteoporosis, and Chronic Back Conditions
  3. Cancer
  4. Chronic Kidney Disease
  5. Diabetes
  6. Disability and Secondary Conditions
  7. Educational and Community-based Programs
  8. Environmental Health
  9. Family Planning
  10. Food Safety
  11. Health Communication
  12. Heart Disease and Stroke
  13. HIV
  14. Immunizations and Infectious Diseases
  15. Injury and Violence Prevention
  16. Maternal, Infant, and Child Health
  17. Medical Product Safety
  18. Mental Health and Mental Disorders
  19. Nutrition and Overweight
  20. Occupational Safety and Health
  21. Oral Health
  22. Physical Activity and Fitness
  23. Public Health Infrastructure
  24. Respiratory Diseases
  25. Sexually Transmitted Diseases
  26. Substance Abuse
  27. Tobacco Use
  28. Vision and Hearing
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