This web site was copied prior to January 20, 2005. It is now a Federal record managed by the National Archives and Records Administration. External links, forms, and search boxes may not function within this collection. Learn more.   [hide]

Department of Health and Human Services
HHS Logo Bottom
HHS Yellow Bar

News Release

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Contact: HHS Press Office
(202) 690-6343

HHS Issues "Blueprint For Action" To Build Healthier Nation

HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson today announced a "Blueprint for Action" to reduce and prevent chronic diseases. The Blueprint outlines steps that individuals, groups, communities and other organizations can take to help improve the overall health of Americans.

Chronic diseases and conditions account for at least 7 of every 10 deaths in the United States and for more than 60 percent of medical care expenditures. In 2000, poor diet and physical inactivity, which contribute to obesity, cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes, accounted for 400,000 actual deaths in the U.S., according to research at HHS' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Only tobacco use caused more preventable deaths. In addition, many chronic diseases result in disability and decrease the quality of life for millions of Americans.

"Much of the chronic disease burden is preventable," Secretary Thompson said. "By engaging individuals, families, health care providers and professionals, we can attack this growing epidemic. Some chronic health problems are related to individual choices or behaviors. People who avoid behaviors that increase their risk for chronic diseases and adopt healthy habits can expect to live healthier and longer lives. Often small changes -- such as engaging in physical activity for 30 minutes a day -- can result in large health benefits."

The Blueprint, released at HHS' 2nd national Steps to a HealthierUS Summit, lists action steps for individuals and families; communities; schools; employers; health insurers; health care providers and professionals; researchers and health professions educators; the media; and state, local and tribal governments.

At the Summit, Secretary Thompson also announced that pre-diabetes -- a condition that raises a person's risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke -- is far more common in the United States than previously believed. HHS now estimates that 41 million Americans ages 40 to 74 have the condition, based on a revised, more accurate definition of pre-diabetes made by an international expert committee of the American Diabetes Association. Many people with pre-diabetes, which is marked by blood glucose levels that are higher than normal but not yet diabetic, go on to develop type 2 diabetes within 10 years.

The Blueprint notes that the most immediate and effective changes in people's lives are controlled by individuals themselves. By taking small, deliberate actions, individuals can improve their lives. These small steps include:

  • Be physically active. Strive for at least 30 minutes of physical activity for adults and 60 minutes for children each day. Play and be active as a family. Decrease time spent in sedentary activities such as watching television.

  • Eat a healthy diet. Consume 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Consume fat and sugar in moderation.

  • Educate yourself about health and risk factors for chronic diseases and conditions such as obesity. Become a student of healthy habits. Learn what constitutes a healthy diet and how to read and use food labels.

  • Avoid risky behaviors. Limit alcohol intake. If you smoke, quit; if you do not smoke, don't start.

  • Know your family's health history, get needed immunizations and vaccinations, and get recommended screenings including a pap smears and mammograms for women, and colonoscopies for both men and women.

To help doctors identify and recommend appropriate screenings for their patients, HHS' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality today released Preventive Services Selector, an application for personal digital assistants such as Palm Pilots. The program allows clinicians to quickly and easily search for which preventive services to provide -- or not provide -- to patients, based on their age and gender.

"By using the synergy of this department we can more effectively provide information and resources to help improve the health of Americans," Secretary Thompson said. "I called these committees together to look at the implications of the various poor health choices we are making as a nation and at ways to improve them."

Secretary Thompson is hosting the annual prevention summit today and tomorrow in Baltimore. The summit addresses the nation's chronic disease epidemic and the department's latest efforts to prevent chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, asthma, heart disease, stroke and cancer, and the risk factors that cause them, namely, physical inactivity, poor nutrition, and tobacco use.

The summit brings together representatives of federal, state and local governments -- providers and practitioners, educators, policy makers, community and industry leaders. It builds on President George W. Bush's HealthierUS Initiative addressing the key areas of physical activity, nutrition, preventive screenings and making healthy choices. The summit will provide tangible ways for participants to make a difference in their own states and communities.

The Blueprint is available at


Note: All HHS press releases, fact sheets and other press materials are available at

Last Revised: May 3, 2004

HHS Home | Questions? | Contact HHS | Site Map | Accessibility | Privacy Policy | Freedom of Information Act | Disclaimers

The White House | FirstGov