Insights & Actions for Healthy Living
Healthy People 2020 Initiative: Are You Headed in the Right Direction?

Healthy People 2020 Initiative: Are You Headed in the Right Direction?

We’re blasted from all sides by health message — do this, don’t do that — that can leave our heads spinning and confused about which issues are most important.

So what do we do?

Did you know that a listing of high priority health issues has been established by the US Health and Human Services, Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and other federal agencies to improve the health of all Americans?

Their report and plan for public health improvements is called Healthy People 2020 and provides a comprehensive set of national goals and objectives over a ten year period.

Recently an update on the progress of the Healthy People 2020 Leading Health Indicators (LHI) or 26 top high priority goals was released.

Key Results of the Leading Health Initiatives

Here is a list of the results. Each of the leading health indicators or highest priority goals is shown with their changes. State and local agencies in collaboration with the federal government put programs in place to improve the results each year. To highlight the issues that are nutrition-related they are shown in red type.

  • 4 indicators (15.4%) have met or exceeded their Healthy People 2020 targets:

Air quality

Children exposed to second hand smoke


Adults meeting aerobic physical activity and muscle-strengthening Federal guidelines

  • 10 indicators (38.5%) are improving:

Adults receiving colorectal screenings

Adults with hypertension whose blood pressure under control

Children receiving recommended vaccines

Injury deaths

Infant deaths

Total preterm live births

Knowledge of serostatus in HIV positive patients

Students receiving high school diploma four years after entering 9th grade

Adolescents using alcohol

Adult cigarette smoking

  • 8 indicators (30.8%) show little or no detectable change:

People with no medical insurance

People with usual primary care provider

Persons diagnosed with diabetes with AIC > 9

Obesity among adults

Obesity among children

Mean daily intake of total vegetables

Binge drinking in past 30 days

Adolescents cigarette smoking in last 30 days

  • 3 indicators (11.5%) are getting worse:


Adolescents with major depressive episodes

Persons who visited dentist in past year

  • 1 indicator (3.8%) has only baseline data.

Improving Leading Health Indicators for a Healthier Community

If you are a health provider or a member of the community, you can participate in activities in your community that will help others achieve their health goals and nudge the statistics to move some of the statistics into the met target zone. This will help everyone get healthier!

You can find a map of activities in your area where public health officials and others are working to impact the indicators at

If there are no activities on the map in your community, you can mobilize your leaders through advocacy of identified health weaknesses that can be improved in your community. Maybe you can…

  • hold a health fair
  • sponsor a walk or exercise event to encourage physical activity
  • start a teaching garden in your school
  • create your own program to improve your neighborhood health indicators

As a health advocate, you can put forth health messages that will educate and empower your community to get involved and make changes in their personal health through social media using The Health Communicator’s Social Media Toolkit made available from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).  This toolkit includes buttons and badges you can add to your blog, strategies to create a social media presence, images to share, widgets, e-cards, content to share and resources for improved health.

The main concerns for nutrition are physical activity, obesity and eating vegetables. There are fun and engaging activities and health information that can motivate all of us to make improvements. We all can make positive changes.

Nutrition for the Health of It will provide you with health messages, tips, recipes, and coaching to make positive health and lifestyle changes for yourself and your family. If you have specific questions or suggestions, I would love to hear from you!

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