HHS Strategic Goals and Objectives - FY 2001 . Goal 1 - Reduce the Major Threats to the Health and Productivity of All Americans

09/29/2000

Research indicates that a significant percentage of premature mortality and morbidity in the United States can be prevented if individuals avoid certain high-risk behaviors (e.g., smoking), adopt healthy ones (e.g., exercise), and reduce exposure to major environmental risks to health (e.g., lead-based paint). The strategic objectives under this goal focus Department efforts on changing behaviors and reducing the risks that are associated with the leading causes of premature mortality and morbidity (e.g., heart disease and stroke) in the United States.

The importance of this goal is evident from the health and economic consequences of the behaviors that are addressed. For example,

  • Smoking is estimated to be responsible for more than 400,000 deaths annually (one in every five deaths in the United States is smoking-related), and it is estimated that smoking increases the risk of contracting other diseases, including heart disease and emphysema and other respiratory diseases.

  • Unintentional injuries (primarily from fires, falls, drowning, and poisonings) are the leading cause of death in the United States for people between the ages of 1 and 44.

  • Violence in intimate relationships is estimated to result in financial losses to women victims of $150 million a year.

  • Poor diet and low levels of physical activity are associated with 300,000 deaths each year, second only to tobacco.

  • Alcohol abuse exacts a financial toll on the nation, costing over $166 billion annually, of which approximately $58 billion is attributed to underage drinking.

  • Drug abuse, estimated to cost society over $100 billion per year, is linked to other public health problems, such as suicide, homicide, motor-vehicle injury, sexually transmitted diseases, and HIV infection.

  • Unsafe sexual behavior is related to more than 12 million cases of sexually transmitted diseases, high teen pregnancy rates, and billions of dollars in preventable health care spending each year. While the actual death rates from HIV infection have declined, the number of new infections (estimated at 40,000 annually) and cost of treatment remain high.

  • Finally, infectious disease (e.g., pneumonia and influenza) was the sixth leading cause of death in the United States in 1998.