Administration Sets Aggressive Public Health Goals With Healthy People 2020 Report

December 2, 2010

WASHINGTON, DC – December 2, 2010 – The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) this morning released its Healthy People 2020 report, which spells out nearly 600 public health goals for the next decade. The goals include several areas of particular concern to people with cancer and their families: reducing overall deaths from cancer, curbing tobacco use by youth and adults, improving access to quality health care, decreasing obesity rates and improving nutrition and physical activity for all populations. The report also focuses on other issues important to the fight against cancer, including global health and quality of life.

Following is a statement about the report by John R. Seffrin, chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) and the American Cancer Society, Inc.:

“The Healthy People 2020 report establishes ambitious and necessary goals for reducing death and suffering from cancer and improving the health of all Americans, particularly low-income people who lack access to adequate care and resources that promote healthy lifestyles. Death rates from cancer have been falling nearly every year since 1990, resulting in more than 600,000 cancer deaths averted, but our nation must make substantially more progress against a disease that kills an estimated 1,500 people in America every day. The goals outlined today should serve to accelerate efforts to end death and suffering from cancer once and for all, and to ensure that health professionals address patients’ physical, mental, emotional needs.”

Reducing Cancer Deaths

“More than 1.5 million people in the United States will be diagnosed with cancer this year alone, and more than 570,000 will die from the disease, accounting for nearly one in four deaths in America. Yet 60 percent of cancer deaths could be prevented if people stopped smoking, got recommended screenings, adopted a healthy diet and exercised regularly. The administration’s goal is to reduce the cancer death rate by 10 percent in the next decade by increasing access nationwide to prevention, strengthening tobacco control laws and programs that help people quit smoking and improving the nutrition and physical activity of all Americans. The report places needed emphasis on the prevention and early detection of cancer globally, at a time when cancer is on course to become the leading disease killer worldwide.”

Curbing Tobacco Use

“Smoking-related diseases remain the world’s most preventable cause of death. With 4,100 children picking up their first cigarette every day, and more than 20 percent of adults smoking on a daily basis, we need to discourage children and adults from smoking, protect nonsmokers from deadly secondhand smoke and improve access to proven tobacco prevention and cessation programs that help people quit. Today’s report includes the important goal of reducing the adult smoking rate to 12 percent of the population and stopping youth from ever starting.”

Increasing Access to Health Care

“Healthy People 2020 outlines several goals to improve access to quality health care, including ensuring that 100 percent of Americans are covered by health insurance. The American Cancer Society has been working for decades to expand access to preventive services, treatment and follow-up care for people with cancer or at risk for cancer. The Affordable Care Act includes numerous provisions that will meaningfully improve the health care system for people with cancer and their families. The law, while not perfect, must be strongly implemented and improved where necessary to ensure access to quality, affordable care nationwide.”

Fighting Obesity, Poor Nutrition and Physical Inactivity

“Being obese or overweight increases the risk for cancer recurrence and decreases the likelihood of survival for many cancers. With obesity among adolescents having tripled over the past three decades, the Healthy People 2020 report calls for this disturbing trend to be reversed and sets an objective of increasing the proportion of adults who are at a healthy weight by 10 percent. Because overweight and obese children are more likely to be overweight or obese as adults, efforts to establish healthy body weight patterns should begin in childhood.”

Christina Saull
(202) 585-3250
[email protected]

Steven Weiss
(202) 661-5711
[email protected]