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Issue 84: From Jordan's Desk--Will 2010-2020 Be Healthier for America?

Americans didn’t meet many of the government’s health goals from 2000 to 2010. In fact, Americans fared worse with their weight, blood pressure and mouth health. We may be headed for more of the same this decade unless we make intentional changes. 

When I read the article on America’s inability to meet many of the health goals the government laid out for it from 2000 to 2010, it reinforced for me the idea that maybe we have this backwards—especially since it doesn’t seem to be working too well for our nation’s population. The final results of how Americans’ health fared during 2000 to 2010 won’t be out until 2011, but the initial indicators aren’t looking so good.

While the government may have good intentions by mapping out some health expectations, the desired outcomes just aren’t going to happen until there’s more personal ownership on the part of Americans. The truth is that, despite the government’s goals, there are more overweight Americans, more salt and unhealthy fat intake, more unhealthy blood pressure levels and more unhealthy mouths than a decade ago.

The Healthy People objectives—which is what the government terms this initiative—were first created in the late 1970s. The purpose? To get Americans to live longer and healthier lives.

This initiative also tried to get more public involvement and to raise awareness that many health problems are preventable. Every 10 years, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reassesses its goals and gives a progress report on the previous decade.

It’s been a downward spiral in recent years, though. Less than half (41%) of the goals were met for 1990, while only 24% of the goals were met for 2000. Preliminary data for the 2010 goals indicate that about 20% of the goals were met, according to an analysis by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. When the CDC did the analysis this past fall, only 18% of the goals had been met and our nation actually withdrew from about one-fourth of the goals set.

Here are some of the findings: Healthy People 2010 wanted the percentage of those who were extremely overweight to drop to 15%. In 2000, about 25% of Americans were excessively overweight, but by 2010 about 34% of adults are extremely overweight.

A similar pattern is true for blood pressure. In 2000, 28% of adults had high blood pressure and the Healthy People 2010 wanted to see that number decline to 16%. The most recent government data, however, says that number has crept up to 29%.

Adding to the problem is the fact that, after nearly 30 years, Americans still aren’t well-acquainted with any of the governmental health goals. Also, while the government lays out the goals, it looks to others to somehow find ways to achieve them. Interestingly, the Healthy People initiative doesn’t provide any funding to meet the goals, either. 

Regardless of its past track record, the government is developing a new set of goals for 2020. Unless there are changes at the personal level, however, I’m afraid we’ll see even more health goals unmet. 

It doesn’t have to be that way, though. You can set your own health goals and make a positive difference in your own personal health. After all, that’s really where it starts—with you.


This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.

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