Every ten years since the late 1970s, the Healthy People Project has created national health goals for Americans for the coming decade. The program, run by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion under the auspices of the Department of Health and Human Services, is currently analyzing the goals set in 2000 for the year 2010 to see which goals have been met, as well as developing health promotion and disease prevention goals for 2020.
Though the final report isn’t due until 2011, early reports show progress in some areas and backsliding in others. Among the successes are increased childhood vaccination rates, lowered cancer death rates, increased breastfeeding numbers and stronger anti-smoking laws. However, only about 20 percent of the goals created in 2000 are likely to be met, down from 41 percent of the goals set for the year 1990.
Though the new goals for 2020 may be more numerous than the 2010 goals, they may also wind up being less ambitious. “We need to strike a balance of setting targets that are achievable and also ask the country to reach,” Howard Koh, M.D., the federal health official in charge of the Healthy People Project told the Associated Press. “That’s a balance that’s sometimes hard to strike.”
Some of the most disappointing results come in the areas of obesity, heart health and nutrition. In 2000, 25 percent of the U.S. population was obese; the goal was to lower that number to 15 percent by 2010, but the number has actually increased to 34 percent. High blood pressure and caesarian births are also up.
In the area of nutrition, the percentage of people consuming the recommended servings of vegetables and grains per day ranged from four percent to 11 percent, well short of the 50 percent target. Given the number of serious conditions linked to improper nutrition, including heart disease, stroke, cancers and diabetes, these nutritional shortcomings suggest that the natural product industry’s health message has yet to be taken up by the broader population.