About 10 years ago the U.S. government set some lofty health goals for the country to reach by 2010. By many measures, Americans didn’t do so well.
There are more obese Americans than a decade ago, not fewer. They eat more salt and fat, not less. More of them have high blood pr essure. More U.S. children have untreated tooth decay.
But the country has made at least some progress on many other goals. Vaccination rates improved. Most workplace injuries are down. And deaths rates from stroke, cancer and heart disease are all dropping.
As a new decade approaches, the government is analyzing how well the U.S. met its 2010 goals and drawing up a new set of goals for 2020 expected to be more numerous and — perhaps — less ambitious.
“We need to strike a balance of setting targets that are achievable and also ask the country to reach,” said Dr. Howard Koh, the federal health official who oversees the Healthy People project. “That’s a balance that’s sometimes a challenge to strike.”
The Healthy People objectives were first created in the late 1970s to set an agenda for getting Americans to live longer, healthier lives. It was also an attempt to involve the public and emphasize that many health problems are preventable.
Every 10 years, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reassesses the goals, and reports on progress made in the previous decade.
Many call the effort a success. The report has been imitated by states and other nations. But after more than 30 years, the goals aren’t well known to the public and only a modest number have been met.
About 41 percent of the 1990 measurable goals were achieved. For the 2000 goals, it was just 24 percent.
As for the 2010 goals, data is still being collected, and a final report is not due out until 2011. But it looks like the results will be in the neighborhood of 20 percent, according to a preliminary analysis by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.
The CDC analysis done this fall found that just 18 percent of those goals have been met so far. Worse, the nation actually retreated from about 23 percent of the goals.
On the Net: Healthy People: www.healthypeople.gov/