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PREVENTION: A BLUEPRINT FOR ACTION

Prevention is an investment opportunity in our nation's future: for individuals, for community groups, for businesses, and for government.  When we have this kind of opportunity to make a difference, it is incumbent upon us to embrace it wholeheartedly and take action.

Tommy G. Thompson
Secretary, HHS

On June 20, 2002, President George W. Bush announced his HealthierUS Initiative, calling on government officials, business leaders, communities, health care providers, churches and civic organizations, to come together as partners in helping Americans live longer, better and healthier lives.   HealthierUS identifies four key health-protection objectives for a healthier America:  increased physical activity, responsible dietary habits, increased use of preventive health screenings, and healthy choices concerning alcohol, tobacco, drugs and safety.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) took up the President's challenge and Secretary Thompson launched Steps to a HealthierUS, a bold initiative that mobilizes the resources of HHS in collaboration with outside organizations to promote healthy habits and chronic disease prevention.  Prevention: A Blueprint for Action, the latest activity in the HHS Steps Initiative, outlines simple steps that individuals and interested groups can take to promote healthy lifestyles and encourage healthy behavior.

The Steps initiative is founded on a growing body of research showing that small, simple steps can often prevent or control chronic diseases.  Its goal is to reverse the growth in the number of people suffering from diseases like asthma, diabetes, cancer, heart disease and stroke, as well as factors that contribute to them such as obesity and tobacco use.  The intent of Steps to a HealthierUS is to reach the broadest number of Americans by using multiple approaches and involving groups and organizations to foster health, physical activity and good nutrition.  To date, these approaches have focused on communities, businesses and organizations, and the actions that they can take to influence individuals’ choices and actions to improve health.  The HHS prevention effort and Steps to a HealthierUS have many components:

This report provides an overview of these efforts.  First, it highlights the problems and challenges in these areas.  Then, based on a series of roundtable discussions between the Secretary and various interested stakeholders, it delineates specific action steps that individuals, communities, insurers, employers, healthcare providers, and other public and private entities can take.  Finally, it profiles HHS activities that address these challenges, reports on progress and accomplishments, and identifies opportunities for additional action.  This Blueprint for Action will create a template for collaborative efforts to improve the health and well-being of all Americans.

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