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Prevention of chronic disease in the 21st century: elimination of the leading preventable causes of premature death and disability in the USA

Authors
Journal
The Lancet
0140-6736
Publisher
Elsevier
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/s0140-6736(14)60648-6
Keywords
  • Review And Opinion
  • Series
  • The Health Of Americans
Disciplines
  • Biology
  • Ecology
  • Geography
  • Medicine

Abstract

Summary With non-communicable conditions accounting for nearly two-thirds of deaths worldwide, the emergence of chronic diseases as the predominant challenge to global health is undisputed. In the USA, chronic diseases are the main causes of poor health, disability, and death, and account for most of health-care expenditures. The chronic disease burden in the USA largely results from a short list of risk factors—including tobacco use, poor diet and physical inactivity (both strongly associated with obesity), excessive alcohol consumption, uncontrolled high blood pressure, and hyperlipidaemia—that can be effectively addressed for individuals and populations. Increases in the burden of chronic diseases are attributable to incidence and prevalence of leading chronic conditions and risk factors (which occur individually and in combination), and population demographics, including ageing and health disparities. To effectively and equitably address the chronic disease burden, public health and health-care systems need to deploy integrated approaches that bundle strategies and interventions, address many risk factors and conditions simultaneously, create population-wide changes, help the population subgroups most affected, and rely on implementation by many sectors, including public–private partnerships and involvement from all stakeholders. To help to meet the chronic disease burden, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) uses four cross-cutting strategies: (1) epidemiology and surveillance to monitor trends and inform programmes; (2) environmental approaches that promote health and support healthy behaviours; (3) health system interventions to improve the effective use of clinical and other preventive services; and (4) community resources linked to clinical services that sustain improved management of chronic conditions. Establishment of community conditions to support healthy behaviours and promote effective management of chronic conditions will deliver healthier students to schools, healthier workers to employers and businesses, and a healthier population to the health-care system. Collectively, these four strategies will prevent the occurrence of chronic diseases, foster early detection and slow disease progression in people with chronic conditions, reduce complications, support an improved quality of life, and reduce demand on the health-care system. Of crucial importance, with strengthened collaboration between the public health and health-care sectors, the health-care system better uses prevention and early detection services, and population health is improved and sustained by solidifying collaborations between communities and health-care providers. This collaborative approach will improve health equity by building communities that promote health rather than disease, have more accessible and direct care, and focus the health-care system on improving population health.

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