Every 10 years, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (US DHHS) spends a lot of time and taxpayer money to develop the nation’s “health goals” for the next decade. And then, it spends a lot more taxpayer money to see if we reach these goals. It’s essentially a big PR campaign paid for by you, the taxpayer. But you may not have actually heard of it, since it’s a government-run PR campaign. So, today, I will try to help the bureaucrats sitting in their offices on the National Mall overlooking the U.S. Capitol get out their message.
Last month, the US DHHS released a “progress report” on how we’re doing as a nation to attain the goals set for 2020. The new report covers 26 high-priority areas. Overall, the numbers aren’t great, as I’ll explain in a moment. But, believe me, we didn’t need to spend millions of taxpayer dollars to point out the obvious.
You see, in the early 1990s, I was working on national health education programs with then former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop. I was also invited to be part of the team charged with developing the nation’s health goals for the year 2000. Back then, another part of the team came up with five major “flagship” goals.
The first goal was to extend average longevity to some arbitrary number. The second goal was to extend the average “number of healthy years of life without debilitating illness or disability” by another arbitrary number. That number, unfortunately, was eight years shorter than the first number.
So, if the lame stream press had been more on the ball, they could have run the headline: “Feds say it’s OK to be debilitated and disabled for last eight years before you die.” I imagine that would have stirred up quite a firestorm. (At least for a day or two.)
Of course, the press never figured out the real story in the 1990s. And the US DHHS hasn’t figured much out since then either. It simply continues on with this exercise in futility that started 25 years ago.
But this program does have a new name (Healthy People 2020) and four “new” goals:
1. Keep men and women in the U.S. alive longer.
I’m sure they have some arbitrary number in mind, just like we did back in 1990s. But they have wised and didn’t release that number. They also wised up in another way…they specifically say men and women should live high-quality lives, free of preventable disease, disability, injury, and premature death. (Well, thank goodness! At least they’re not “aiming” for eight years of disability anymore.)
2. Achieve health equity in the U.S.
In other words, they want everyone to “achieve” the same level of heath–just like they want everyone to have the same level of…well…everything! And achievement has nothing to do with it. (In 2010, the US DHHS also stated they wanted 100 percent health care coverage. And, voila, just four short years later, we have a universal health care law.)
3. “Create” social and physical environments that promote good health for all.
Of course, the government doesn’t create anything. It just takes from those who do.
4. Promote quality of life, healthy development, and healthy behaviors across all life stages.
Interestingly, the DHHS recognizes what they call “Social Determinants of Health”–such as employment–are keys to good health. Unfortunately, the White House and other government agencies insist on imposing policies, often illegally, that severely limit “creation” of good jobs and true economic progress, prosperity and security.
So–those are new goals the DHHS added for this decade. But how exactly are we stacking up when it comes to all their other goals?
Well, there is some good news.
First, we have indeed met the goal for improved air quality. Which is interesting, given that the politically correct and their factions of government continue to warn of impending environmental disaster any day now. And they try to impose ever more restrictions and regulations working against U.S. energy independence and jobs (one of their social determinants of health).
Second, we have already met the 2020 goal for adult physical activity. (But adult, adolescent, and childhood obesity still went up. Perhaps it’s something in the food and all those drugs?)
Third, we already achieved–even exceeded–the 2020 goal to lower injury and violence rates (including homicides).
Now, this one is interesting too. We reached this goal, despite factoring in several very well-publicized, tragic mass killings. And despite skyrocketing gun sales as big government continues to threaten disarming innocent, law-abiding citizens. (Maybe Obama’s new clueless nominee for U.S. Surgeon General, who says the “Second Amendment is now the nation’s major health hazard,” should look at the scientific data from his own government department that proves otherwise.)
The fourth bit of good news?
Cigarette smoking among adults and adolescents went down by a few percentage points since 2008/2009. All well and good…the government’s single-minded, 30-year obsession with smoking has successfully brought down the rates as intended. Now, if they could only do something about lung cancer itself! Lung cancer remains the No. 1cancer killer in men and women. And the government has nothing else to offer these victims other than smoking cessation. Wasn’t preventing lung cancer supposed to be the reason for these restrictive, draconian policies? Hmmm…
Now, on to the bad news from the report…
Our nation is struggling in the area of mental health.
We went from 11.3 suicides per 100,000 in 2007 to 12.1 per 100,000 in 2010. So we are losing more people than ever to this tragic fate.
Plus, the percentage of adolescents 12 to 17 years old who experienced major depressive episodes rose from 8.3 percent in 2008 to 9.1 percent just four years later in 2012. (The 2020 goal is 7.5 percent…but shouldn’t the goal be zero if the drug treatments were really effective?)
Of course, if you believe the government-industrial-medical complex, we have wonderful SSRI antidepressant drugs that should effectively treat depression for the millions of unsuspecting children and adults now taking them.
But, as you know, these drugs don’t work. (That fact should now be even more obvious from the government’s own data.) At best, these drugs help 1 in 7 patients. At worst, they cause suicides. Plus, SSRIs can cause breast cancer, liver failure, gastrointestinal problems, and sexual dysfunction. Research even links SSRIs to autism and developmental disorders in children of mothers given the drugs during pregnancy.
Obviously, SSRIs are not the answer to this nation’s worsening mental health. And most of the other Healthy People 2020 recommendations are just as sad.
If you really want to learn more about healthy living and the real science, just keep checking your inbox for more Daily Dispatches. I’ll continue to bring you more important breakthroughs from the front lines of medical research. I also suggest you become a subscriber to my monthly newsletter Insiders’ Cures. You’ll receive all the tools you’ll ever need–and more–to reach your own healthy goals…even before the year 2020!
1. “Healthy People 2020 Leading Health Indicators: Progress Update,” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.healthypeople.gov
2. “Healthy People 2020: A Report Card on the Health of the Nation,” JAMA, Published online May 28, 2014