Friday November 28th 2014

Progress in disease prevention, health promotion

The nation’s health is improving in more than half of the critical measures that are known to have major influence in reducing preventable disease and death, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Healthy People 2020 represents the nation’s current 10-year goals and objectives for health promotion and disease prevention. Twenty-six specific measures — in categories such as access to care, maternal and child health, tobacco use, nutrition and physical activity — were identified as high-priority health issues. These “leading health indicators” (LHI), if addressed appropriately, have the potential to significantly reduce major influences or threats on the public’s health that cause illness and death.

“The leading health indicators are intended to motivate action to improve the health of the whole population,” said Howard Koh, assistant secretary for Health. “Today’s LHI progress report shows that we are doing just that.”

Koh also expects that, with the full implementation of the Affordable Care Act, there will be more improvements across these indicators.

Among the 14 health indicators that have either been met or are improving in this first third of the decade are:

• Fewer adults smoking cigarettes.

• More adults meeting physical activity targets.

• Fewer adolescents using alcohol or illicit drugs.

While progress has been made across several indicators, the report highlights areas where further work is needed to improve the health of all Americans. For more information about the Leading Health Indicators Progress Update, go to www.healthypeople.gov/2020/LHI/default.aspx.

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