Healthy People 2020 Initiative:

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services unveiled the Healthy People 2020, initiative back in December 2010. The Healthy People Program was started 30 years ago, and each decade sees additional areas for focus. The following includes the Vision and Mission for Healthy People 2020.

Vision: A society in which all people live long, healthy lives.

Mission: Healthy People 2020 strives to:

  • Identify nationwide health improvement priorities.
  • Increase public awareness and understanding of the determinants of health, disease, and disability and the opportunities for progress.
  • Provide measurable objectives and goals that are applicable at the national, State, and local levels.
  • Engage multiple sectors to take actions to strengthen policies and improve practices that are driven by the best available evidence and knowledge.
  • Identify critical research, evaluation, and data collection needs.

Overarching Goals:

  • Attain high-quality, longer lives free of preventable disease, disability, injury, and premature death.
  • Achieve health equity, eliminate disparities, and improve the health of all groups.
  • Create social and physical environments that promote good health for all.
  • Promote quality of life, healthy development, and healthy behaviors across all life stages.

The new 10-.year goals and objectives for health promotion and disease prevention, and “myHealthyPeople,” a new challenge for technology application developers, is the focus for Healthy People 2020. For the past 30 years, Healthy People has been committed to improving the quality of our health by producing a framework for public health prevention priorities and actions.

“Our challenge and opportunity is to avoid preventable diseases from occurring in the first place.” Data shows that many deaths in the United States are preventable. If we change our focus from treating disease to prevention, we will make positive changes as a nation.

Chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes, are responsible for seven out of every 10 deaths among Americans each year and account for 75 percent of the nation’s health spending.

Many of the risk factors that contribute to the development of these diseases are preventable. “Too many people are not reaching their full potential for health because of preventable conditions,” said Assistant Secretary for Health Howard K. Koh, M.D., M.P.H. “Healthy People is the nation’s roadmap and compass for better health, providing our society a vision for improving both the quantity and quality of life for all Americans.”

The Healthy People initiative is grounded in the principle that setting national objectives and monitoring progress can motivate action. Healthy People 2020 integrates input from public health and prevention experts, a wide range of federal, state and local government officials, a consortium of more than 2,000 organizations, and most importantly, the public.

The following are additional areas for focus for Healthy People 2020: Check out for a more extensive list.
Adolescent Health
Blood Disorders and Blood Safety
Dementias, including Alzheimer’s disease
Early and Middle Childhood
Global Health
Health-Related Quality of Life and Well-Being
Healthcare-Associated Infections


  • Breathe deeply. Want to do something in the next five minutes that will change your life? Breathe deeply. These days there are even Smartphone applications that can guide you through deep breathing and help you to practice properly.
  • Give and get a hug. According to Maureen Lyon, (Ph.D George Washington University) “Give and receive four hugs a day.” Why? Research shows that hugging makes you live longer. Human beings need touch. It “soothes and calms us,” Lyon said. “It brings down that reactive arousal system that can get activated when we feel threatened in any way and especially in stressful situations.” And hugs don’t have to be just of the human type — dogs and cats count too.
  • Be mindful. Forget about that mounting to-do list, the fight you had with your best pal, or your Facebook update or Twitter account. Take time out to get back to the present moment. List five things they see, hear, feel, smell or taste. Doing this helps pause worrying and refocuses attention on the present moment.
  • Stop the cruel talk. What’s one way you can start being kinder to yourself? Learn to be more self-compassionate. Being cruel to oneself, is not indicative of how much money you have, the house you own or your job. People in other cultures who are not financially wealthy have more social support and are nicer to themselves and each other. Why? Lyon said that negative thinking about one’s self is a contributing factor to depression.
  • Create your own family of choice. You cannot control the family you’ve been given. But you can create your own. Find friends and even older people who can act as parental figures for you.
  • Love yourself and then love your neighbor. It’s a distortion to think that self-care is selfish,” Lyon said. Realistically, you will not be able to help anyone else unless you first take care of yourself.

Wellness is an active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a healthy and fulfilling life.
"...a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity." - The World Health Organization.

Wellness Made Easy: The Basics of Great Health
Wellness is comprised of three basic components: a balanced diet, regular exercise, and wise lifestyle choices. Incorporating all three into your daily routine can help you live a longer, healthier life. Adopting even one of them can improve your well-being.

Wellness Made Easy: The Basics of Great Health
Wellness is comprised of three basic components: a balanced diet, regular exercise, and wise lifestyle choices. Incorporating all three into your daily routine can help you live a longer, healthier life. Adopting even one of them can improve your well-being.

Eating healthy
A healthy diet can reduce your risk for heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. A healthy diet is:

  • High in complex carbohydrates. Fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and legumes should make up 45 to 65 percent of an adult's diet. A daily diet that contains two cups of fruit, 2-1/2 cups of vegetables, and three or more servings of whole grains (approximately three ounces per day) will also provide the recommended 20 to 35 grams of fiber.
  • High in variety. Eating a variety of foods helps you meet the dietary reference intakes for essential vitamins and minerals.
  • Low in fat. You should get no more than 20 to 35 percent of your total calories from fat. To reduce your fat intake: Choose a more vegetarian based diet. Choose lean meats over fatty cuts; skinless white-meat poultry over dark-meat poultry with skin; nonfat salad dressings over regular dressings; nonfat or low-fat dairy products over full-fat products; and baked or broiled entrées over fried ones.
  • Low in cholesterol. Keep your daily intake to 300 mg or less. Eat the recommended number of servings from the meat group (six to nine ounces per day), but don't overindulge. Remember only animal products or foods made with animal products will be high in cholesterol.
  • Low in sodium. Limit your sodium intake to 2,300 mg or less per day. To reduce your intake: Use less salt when preparing foods. Add less of it at the table. Check food labels for high sodium levels, then choose products with lower levels. Limit use of prepared convenience foods and condiments, which usually are high in sodium.

Regular exercise
Regular exercise can reduce your risk for heart disease, cancer, obesity, and osteoporosis. USDA guidelines for exercise include 2 hours and 30 minutes moderate to vigorous exercise each week for adults and 60 or more minutes daily for children. Be sure to check with your health care provider before beginning an exercise program.
A balanced exercise program includes:

  • Aerobic exercise. This type of exercise makes your heart beat faster. It increases your cardiovascular endurance.
  • Weight or resistance training. Muscle strength and endurance help you maintain a sustained effort while you're playing sports, doing household chores, gardening, or carrying things and helps prevent falling in older adults.
  • Flexibility exercise. Flexibility, or the ease with which you can move your joints and muscles through their full ranges of motion, protects your muscles from strains and injury. It can also provide relief from back and joint pain, immobility, and improve balance. Always warm up before stretching major muscle groups.

Healthy lifestyle habits
These healthy habits can help prolong your life:

  • Not smoking. Cigarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of lung cancer and heart disease.
  • Drinking alcohol moderately, if at all. Moderate drinking is defined as no more than one drink a day for women and people older than age 65, and no more than two drinks a day for men younger than age 65. One drink is a 12-ounce bottle of beer, a four-ounce glass of wine, or a 1-ounce shot of liquor. Heavy use of alcohol increases your risk for liver disease and heart failure.
  • Scheduling regular medical checkups. Many potentially fatal illnesses, including breast cancer, colon cancer, and heart disease, can be treated effectively if diagnosed early.
  • Wearing an SPF 30 sunscreen that protects against both UVB and UVA on exposed skin year-round when you are outdoors. Basal cell carcinoma, the most common skin cancer, strikes one in eight Americans. Sunscreen can provide effective protection. Be sure to apply the sunscreen correctly and use adequate amounts.
  • Controlling stress and anger. Stress and anger can contribute to heart disease. To ease your stress, learn the basics of positive self-talk and do relaxation exercises regularly. To help control your anger, learn to be empathetic and less suspicious of other people's motives.
  • Take care of your physical health. Tthe optimum recommendation for physical activity (including aerobic exercise and strength training) is 90 minutes a day. The good news is that 20 minutes three times a week is enough to help you increase longevity.
  • Take back control. There are a lot of things in life that we have no control over. But the key to healthy living is focusing on what you can control. Remember the Serenity Prayer? Even nonreligious folks can reap the benefits from following these words: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.” It can be empowering to focus on what you can control and then let go of the things that you can’t.
  • Make sleep and healthy eating priorities. Getting enough sleep is vital to your mental health and physical wellbeing. A healthy average is seven to nine hours a night.
  • Find someone you can confide in. You don’t need millions of Facebook friends or even hundreds of in-person ones. According to research, you just need one trustworthy friend you can confide in to live longer and recover faster from illness.

Remember that one small change a day can provide you with major, positive health results. Make a commitment to your future by taking one small step to better health!