THURSDAY, Dec. 2 (HealthDay News) -- As 2010 winds down, the
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced
its next set of 10-year goals for improving the nation's health,
including making dents in rates of obesity, smoking and deaths from
cancer and heart disease.
"The reason for Healthy People is to try to move the nation to better health," said Carter Blakey, the Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary at HHS' Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.
"The Healthy People objectives are to some extent a road map for public health, cataloging the places we can and should go over the span of a decade," added Dr. David L. Katz, director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine.
According to HHS, about 19 percent of the Healthy People 2010
goals were met and progress was made on another 52 percent.
However, in some areas, such as obesity, things have gotten worse
But the Healthy People goals are also, to some degree,
aspirational, Katz noted. "Achieving these objectives is dependent
both on developing new tools, new programs and new methods, and on
turning what we already know into what we routinely do," he
"Heart disease, for example, is widely considered to be all but eradicable with full application of what we know about just three factors: tobacco use, diet and physical activity," Katz said.
"To date, we have failed to achieve fully the aspirations of Healthy People," he said. "Whether or not 2020 proves different will depend to a lesser degree on the creation of new ways to get there, and to a larger degree on the will to follow paths already open to us."
But Blakey stressed that when goals aren't met there are a lot
of factors that are in play. Not meeting a goal is not seen as a
failure, but as an area where more work is needed.
With that in mind, some of the new goals for 2020 are:
To achieve these and other goals, programs that promote healthy
lifestyles and new state regulations will be needed, such as more
smoke-free laws, improved children's school lunches and other
programs to fight obesity and reduce the number of new cases of
The 2020 goals cover almost 600 areas of health, from food
poisoning to getting more people insured, to reducing the use of
cancer-causing tanning beds and reducing children's exposure to
Many of the 2020 goals are modest, unlike the loftier goals of
other year's programs.
"That's a result of a public advisory committee looked at lessons learned from Healthy People 2010," Blakey said. "The goals for Healthy People 2010 were particularly ambitious and really shot for the stars. The committee wondered whether it was effective to set overly ambitious goals that we knew we couldn't achieve. The committee recommended that for Healthy People 2020 we set goals that were realistic and achievable."
If a similar process was used for 2010 goals they would have
achieved 50 percent of them, Blakey said.
For example, in 2000 almost 25 percent of the population was
obese and the 2010 goal was to cut that 15 percent. But in 2010,
the obesity rate has risen to 34 percent, so the new goal is to cut
that by only 10 percent.
Also in the past decade, the number of cases of diabetes has
been increasing and the number of smokers remains at about 20
On the plus side, Americans are living longer and deaths from
heart disease and cancer are dropping. However, much of this
appears to be due to better treatment, not to healthier living.
Healthy People 2020 goals include such areas as:
As part of the 2020 goals the government has tried to make it
more meaningful to individuals, Blakey explained. The hope is
people will become familiar with some of the goals that relate to
them and see what they can do themselves to achieve these goals in
their own lives, she said.
For more information on 2020 goals, visit
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