HEALTHY PEOPLE 2000: 85% of Goals Unmet
With just six months left, the U.S. has met only 15% of the year 2000 health goals set 20 years ago as stubborn ethnic health disparities persist, physical activity levels continue to decrease and obesity levels rise ever higher. Surgeon General David Satcher, speaking yesterday at Harvard Medical School, said, "In some ways we are doing well, and in others, we still have challenges and more to do." An optimistic Donna Shalala, HHS Secretary, noted that progress has been made on 44% of the goals and said, "As the century draws to a close, we can be proud that we have made significant strides in improving the health of Americans." According to yesterday's release of Healthy People 2000 Review, the nation has met goals on reducing "infant mortality, childhood mortality and breast cancer deaths" (Hilts, New York Times, 6/11). The Boston Globe reports that this year's report card is the best ever since the government began issuing them in 1979.
Some positive findings:
- Cancer death rates for adults ages 25 to 64 have exceeded the target reduction thanks to drops in "breast and colorectal cancers, and a slowing of lung cancer fatalities";
- Life expectancy is up among older Americans (Hsu, 6/11);
- On schedule are rising rates of "child immunizations, breast feeding, regular dentist visits, mammography screening, and the eating of five servings of fruits and vegetables per day."
- More than 20% of children and more than half of Americans are overweight, and about half of black and Hispanic women are obese;
- Childhood asthma has tripled since 1980 (Lasalandra, Boston Herald, 6/11);
- "[H]eavy drinking among high school seniors has increased recently and there has been little reduction among college drinkers" (Globe, 6/11).
Former Surgeon General Dr. Julius Richmond, who established the Healthy People 2000 campaign, noted that although the average infant mortality rate is down and "almost at the goal, there remains a great disparity for whites and for blacks." The overall death rate for African Americans is double that of whites, "and has been that way for decades," Richmond said. Satcher said that diabetes also preys disproportionately on Hispanics and blacks, and African Americans suffer from asthma at a rate far above the norm (New York Times, 6/11). Hinting at health goals for 2010 -- expected to be released next January -- Satcher said that a priority is ending racial disparities in six areas: infant mortality, chid and adult immunization, coronary heart disease, diabetes and cancer screening, and lifestyle" (Globe, 6/11).