By Donna L. Hamilton, MD, MS

For three decades the US Department of Health and Human services has set goals to guide individuals in making informed health choices.  On December 2, 2010 they launched the most recent agenda to improve our nation’s health, Healthy People 2020. Compared to the ambitious 2010 goals, the 2020 goals are more realistic.

In addition to identifying priorities for improving the nation’s wellness, Healthy People 2020 strives to increase public awareness about factors impacting health. They also hope to improve policies and practices affecting health and wellness. They envision a society where all people live long, healthy lives.

Though Healthy People 2020 addresses many health areas, it has four primary goals:

1)     Attain high-quality, longer lives free of preventable disease, disability, injury, and premature death.

2)     Achieve health equity, eliminate disparities, and improve the health of all groups.

3)     Create social and physical environments that promote good health for all.

4)     Promote quality of life, healthy development, and healthy behaviors across all life stages.

In addition to addressing common health issues like diabetes, physical activity, and tobacco use, the 2020 goals include new topics such as:

  • Adolescent Health
  • Blood Disorders and Blood Safety
  • Dementias, including Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Early and Middle Childhood Health
  • Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Health
  • Older Adults
  • Sleep Health
  • Social Determinants of Health
  • Health Related Quality of Life and Well-Being

To see the complete list of topics and to find related health resources visit In addition to general consumer resources, the website lists agencies and organizations committed to achieving the 2020 goals.