Healthy People 2010 will Fail Miserably

     Midway through this decade, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services conducted a midcourse review to assess the status of the national objectives. Of the 19 objectives and sub-
objectives remaining in the Healthy People 2010 Midcourse Review, only 2—calcium intake and
food security—have made significant progress toward their targets.
Seven show little or no progress, and 8 have moved away from their targets. Two other objectives either have only baseline data or are without data.

     The 2 leading health indicator categories of the Healthy People 2010 are Physical Activity and Overweight /Obesity. Reviewing first the overweight/obesity category, all the objectives are moving away from their original targets.  The age-adjusted proportion of adults aged 20 years and older who are obese (having a BMI of 30 or above) was 33 percent in 2003–2006. The 1988–1994 baseline was 23 percent, and the target 15 percent.    

     Overweight and obesity in children aged 6 to 11 years increased from 11 percent in 1988–1994 to 17 percent in 2003–2006. In adolescents aged 12 to 19 years, the increase over the same period was from 11 percent to 18 percent. The target for both children and adolescents is 5 percent.

     Examining next the physical activity category; the findings are that the age-adjusted proportion of adults aged 18 years and older who engaged regularly in moderate or vigorous leisure-time physical activity did not change significantly between 1997 (32 percent) and 2006 (31 percent). In 2006, 29 percent of females engaged regularly in moderate or vigorous leisure-time physical activity, compared with 33 percent of males. Moderate physical activity is carried on 30 minutes or more 5 or more times a week, vigorous physical activity for 20 minutes or more 3 or more times a week. In 2006, as in 1997, the older the adult age group and the lower the level of their educational attainment, the less likely they were to engage regularly in moderate or vigorous leisure-time physical activity.

     The proportion of adolescents in grades 9 through 12 who engaged regularly in vigorous physical activity was 64 percent in 2007 (55 percent of females, 73 percent of males), little changed from the 65 percent baseline in 1999. Regular vigorous physical activity is defined as physical activity lasting at least 20 minutes on 3 or more of the previous 7 days that made the student sweat or breathe hard.

     In conclusion, the Healthy People 2010 will probably fail to meet most of the objectives and will not be very successful.  The main problem for that is because of lack of exposure. Being in the fitness and wellness industry, I have had no prior exposure to the Healthy People 2010 initiative until recetnly.  It’s unrealistic then to expect most of the US population to know much about it and be motivated to change.  The Healthy People initiative needs more awareness and public relations in order for it to be effective and for the resulting healthy lifestyle habits to be adopted by families across our country.

     A strategy to start with may be to have all medical doctors, nurses, and hospitals hand out a brief overview copy of the report to all their patients. Health insurance companies should also have the PDF available on their websites for download. Fitness Certification companies such as ACE, NASM, ACSM etc. could have copies available on their websites for download, and even feature a question or two about it in their certification exams for extra credit. 

    Our United States government must also do more to bring about awareness. They could run commercials on television and radio, as well as place internet banner ads, with a call to action for people to become involved in Healthy People 2010

     The initiative could be better implemented by offering schools and communities incentives to reach some of the goals outlined in the report. These incentives could include monies and grants to help fulfill some of the Healthy People 2010 objectives. Ideas could be fitness parks and community centers, bike paths, public meditation areas, healthy eating workshops/seminars, and free public health screenings.

     Families across America could possibly earn tax breaks if they are on track to reaching some of the goals in the overweight/obesity and physical activity categories. Perhaps there could be government fitness and health assessment centers where families could go and get tracked, get measured, and receive proper counseling.

     Companies should also get tax breaks and incentives for nurturing healthy employees to comply with some of the objectives of the report. Many companies are already aware that they should do this anyway, because healthier employees leads to better productivity, less sick days, lower health insurance costs, and many more benefits.

     And last, religions all across the country should meet at a summit to discuss ways in which they could come together on the one common denominator of preaching healthy lifestyles to their congregations and members. They might agree that healthier and happier patrons in their churches, mosques, and synagogues would really increase retention, lower attrition, and enhance more activation of members. If each church member as a result of being healthier ends up spending less on health-care costs, they could then have more to give to their places of worship via donations and charitable and contributions.


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Jack Witt