The Healthy People programs are successive, largescale, public health initiatives of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Each initiative lasts one decade: thus, Healthy People 2010 was launched in 2000, and Healthy People 2020, in 2010.
Healthy People initiatives collect data, monitor and assess outcomes, and evaluate the successes and failures of health improvement programs and activities nationwide. The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is responsible for tracking progress toward objectives. Regularly scheduled progress reviews are prepared by the agency with lead responsibility for each priority area, along with the assistance of a work group for the priority area and invited representatives from state agencies and private organizations. Progress reviews for specific population targets are published.
Healthy People promotes collaboration across several professions and agencies. Its objectives, targets, and generated data have become important tools to help manage efforts of public and private organizations at the federal, state, and local levels. Of particular importance is Healthy People's focus on measuring progress toward health objectives within specific populations.
Each Healthy People initiative has broad and large public health goals. The goals of Healthy People 2000 were to increase the healthy lifespan of Americans, reduce health disparities among Americans, and achieve universal access to preventive health services. The goals of Healthy People 2010 were to increase the years and quality of healthy life for Americans and to eliminate health disparities among different segments of the population by 2010, in particular, to eliminate remaining racial disparities in healthcare utilization and outcomes. Healthy People 2020 has focused on making people's lives longer and better quality by helping them understand health, disease, and disability better and providing information as to how individuals and communities can improve health and prevent disease. The 2020 goals also continue to address disparities in health and create environments that support good health and prevent chronic disease.
Healthy People was launched in 1979 by the HHS's Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Each successive Healthy People initiative sets 10-year objectives within priority or focus areas. The federal government awards millions of dollars in grants to state and community programs based on these objectives. The Healthy People objectives are required to be significant, easy to understand, and realistic. They must also be measurable with high-quality, available research and data that compares them to the objectives and achievements of previous Healthy People initiatives.
Healthy People is a systematic, science-based approach to improving the health of all Americans, founded on the idea that clear goals and measurement based on scientific evidence help track progress and focus public health activities. Healthy People's objectives are broad based and designed to promote healthy practices among individuals and institutions to improve disease prevention. Each new Healthy People initiative uses public health data from the previous decade to find and focus on emerging public health priorities and to develop strategies, research, and resources to address those priorities.
Healthy People 2000 tracked data such as total deaths and specific causes of death, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and motor-vehicle crashes. Other indicators included data on infectious and sexually transmitted diseases, prenatal care, births to adolescents, low-birth-weight newborns, childhood poverty, and poor air quality. A number of important indicators received high priority in the first Healthy People initiative.
Healthy People 2010, launched in January 2000, consisted of 467 objectives in 28 focus areas:
Healthy People 2010's leading health indicators were a set of objectives that were chosen based on their ability to motivate action, their relevance as broad public health issues, and the availability of data for measuring progress. These included physical activity, tobacco use, responsible sexual behavior, injury and violence, immunization, overweight and obesity, substance abuse, mental health, environmental quality, and access to health care.
For coordinating specific focus areas, Healthy People 2010 partnered with the HHS and other federal agencies. The Healthy People Consortium included more than 400 national organizations and partnerships between HHS and private or local organizations and businesses.
Healthy People 2000 Final Review was released in October 2001. The targets for reducing deaths from coronary heart disease and cancer were surpassed. Health disparities were reduced for more than onehalf of the special populations identified as being at increased risk. Sixty-eight objectives (21%) were met. Another 129 objectives (41%) progressed toward their targets. Thirty-five objectives (11%) showed mixed results. Seven objectives (2%) showed no change. Forty-seven objectives (15%) moved away from their targets. Assessments could not be obtained for 32 objectives (10%).
The data sets for Healthy People 2010 were collected from more than 190 different sources. Preliminary results show that although some objectives were achieved, lifestyle goals, in particular, fell far short of their targets or even declined from previous years. Its two main goals were to increase quality and years of healthy life and to eliminate health disparities related to race, education level, income, and other factors. Life expectancy and quality increased for people age 65 in health and being free of activity limitations; however, no improvement was noted in people age 65 being free of chronic diseases. In the disparities goal, no real change occurred for 69% of the 169 specific objectives. Of the remaining 52 objectives, slightly more than half showed a decrease in disparities or at least 10%, and just under half actually increased by at least 10%.
In all, of the 733 objectives in Healthy People 2010:
Healthy People 2020 was launched on December 2, 2010. Its overarching goals include high-quality, longer lives for Americans, free of preventable disease, disability, injury, and premature death. Its other goals are achieving health equity by eliminating disparities and improving the health of all population group, creating social and physical environments that promote good health for all, and promoting quality of life, healthy development, and healthy behaviors throughout all stages of life.
Thirteen new focus areas were identified for Healthy People 2020:
Healthy People 2020's goals are modest compared to previous decades, in part because of failure to reach previous goals in areas such as smoking, obesity, and diabetes. Examples of new goals for 2020 include reducing obesity by 10%, reducing the number of smokers by 21%, reducing deaths from heart attack by 20%, and reducing cancer deaths by 10%. Healthy People 2020 also is focused on improving data and using the data to track whether health has improved.
National Center for Health Statistics (US). Healthy People 2010: Final Review. Hyattsville: National Center for Health Statistics, 2012.
“Are You Better than Average?” Consumer Reports on Health 23, no. 1 (January 2011): 1.
Benz, J. “The Healthy People Initiative: Understanding the User's Perspective.” Journal of Public Health Management and Practice 19, no. 2 (2013): 103–9.
Bolin, J. N., et al. “Rural Healthy People 2020: New Decade, Same Challenges.” Journal of Rural Health 31, no. 3 (2015): 326–33.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Data2010: The Healthy People 2010 Database.” US Department of Health & Human Services. http://wonder.cdc.gov/data2010 (accessed March 3, 2017).
Landau, Maryl Davids. “Healthy People 2010: Americans Falling Short of Federal Benchmarks.” US News and World Report Health. (accessed march 3, 2017).
National Center for Health Statistics. “Healthy People.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/healthy_people.htm (accessed March 3, 2017).
National Center for Health Statistics. “Healthy People 2000.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/healthy_people/hp2000.htm (accessed March 3, 2017).
National Center for Health Statistics. “Healthy People 2010 Final Review.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hpdata2010/hp2010_final_review.pdf (accessed March 3, 2017).
Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. “Healthy People 2020.” US Department of Health & Human Services. Healthy People 2020. https://www.healthypeople.gov/ (accessed March 3, 2017).
Reinberg, Steven. “US Failing to Meet Goals for Women's Health: Report.” Health Day http://health.usnews.com/health-news/family-health/cancer/articles/2010/12/09/us-failing-to-meet-goals-for-womens-health-report (accessed March 3, 2017).
Reinberg, Steven. “US Government Sets New Health Goals for 2020.” HealthDay. http://health.usnews.com/health-news/family-health/heart/articles/2010/12/02/us-government-sets-new-health-goals-for-2020 (accessed March 3, 2017).
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Road, Atlanta, GA, 30329, (800) CDC-INFO (232-4636), firstname.lastname@example.org, http://www.cdc.gov .
Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 1101 Wootton Parkway, LL-100, Rockville, MD, 20852, Fax: (240) 453-8282, email@example.com, http://www.healthypeople.gov .
Margaret Alic, PhD
Revised by Teresa G. Odle, BA, ELS