In the mid-1970s, the United States government began to focus on national health issues, particularly disease prevention and health promotion. The first document to focus on the nation's health was the Report of the President's Committee on Health Education (1973). This was followed by the enactment of the National Consumer Health Information and Health Promotion Act of 1976, which created the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. In 1979, this office produced the first Healthy People report, Healthy People: The Surgeon General's Report on Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, which focused on reducing mortality rates and increasing independence among older adults.
Healthy People 2010 describes ten leading health indicators (LHIs) that reflect important health concerns for U.S. citizens. The LHIs, which include physical activity, mental health, and substance abuse, among others, are accompanied by a set of objectives designed to improve Americans' health.
In 1990, Healthy People 2000 was published. This report contained twenty-two priority areas and 319 health objectives to be achieved by the year 2000. The overall goals were to increase years of healthy life, reduce health disparities, and improve access to preventive health services. These goals were set partly on the basis of the original 1979 goals, as well as to address the health of high-risk populations, racial and ethnic disparities, and to involve more community organizations in formulating the objectives.
While the nation has achieved many of the Healthy People 2000 objectives, such as reducing mortality rates, reducing unintentional injuries, and increasing immunization rates, other health issues became more critical between 1990 and 2000. For example, smoking increased among the young-adult population, specifically in girls; HIV infection due to risky sexual behavior continued to be a concern, specifically among African-American women; obesity rose 50 percent between 1980 and 2000, and there was an increase in the percentage of people with diabetes and mental health disorders. All of these emerging issues prompted the next set of objectives to focus more closely on individual lifestyle behavior change and community health.
Healthy People 2010, released in January 2000, has twenty-eight focus areas and 467 objectives, with the overall goals of eliminating health disparities and increasing the quality and years of healthy life.
Healthy People 2010 expands on the Healthy People 2000 objectives, while also addressing emerging issues such as obesity and mental health. For example, obesity has been linked to many other health concerns such as high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Therefore, one objective of Healthy People 2010 is to promote health and reduce chronic disease associated with diet and weight. This objective will focus on weight status and growth; food and nutrient consumption; iron deficiency and anemia; schools, worksites, and nutrition counseling; and food security.
The Healthy People 2010 objectives will be used by state agencies, such as health departments, in planning health promotion and disease prevention programs. Local health agencies will also use the guidelines when planning health programs. For example, schools will use the nutrition objectives in school nutrition programs; private companies will use the physical activity objectives to plan worksite wellness programs; and various organizations will join together in planning health fairs.
Through the collaborative effort of all people in the nation using the Healthy People 2010 guidelines, there can be a significant improvement in the length and quality of life for all.
Pauline A. Vickery
Green, L., and Ottoson, J. (1999). Community and Population Health, 8th edition. Boston: WCB/McGraw-Hill.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (1991). Healthy People 2000: National Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Objectives. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2001. Healthy People 2010. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Healthy People 2010. Available from <http://www.health.gov/healthypeople>
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. "Healthy People 2010: Fact Sheet." Available from <http://www.health.gov/hpcomments>