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Diabetes, Obesity And Asthma  Prevention $$

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Date:  January 22, 2003

For Release:  Immediately

Contact:  HHS Press Office

(202) 690-6343


Headline:  HHS Budget Proposal To Include $100 Million Increase To Prevent Diabetes, Obesity And Asthma Across The Country

New Initiative Would Support Community Efforts To Combat Growing Epidemics


President Bush's fiscal year 2004 budget plan will include an increase of $100 million -- to $125 million -- for a new initiative to prevent diabetes, obesity and asthma through community initiatives to achieve healthier lifestyles for hundreds of thousands of Americans, HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson announced today.


"To truly stem the epidemic of preventable diseases that threaten too many Americans, we need to move from a health care system that treats disease to one that avoids disease through wiser personal choices," Secretary Thompson said.  "This new initiative will support community programs aimed at getting results and helping those at risk to avoid these diseases through proven prevention methods."


Under the "Steps to a Healthier US" initiative, HHS would fund specific projects at the state and community level that would use proven medical and public health strategies to reduce the burden of diabetes, obesity and asthma among their populations.  The initiative includes target goals for disease reduction.  Projects under the initiative would include:


gldball.gifState programs to motivate and support responsible health choices that would reduce the burden of preventable disease;

gldball.gifCommunity initiatives to promote and enable healthful choices, especially those focused on youth and older Americans;

gldball.gifHealth care and insurance systems that put prevention first and reduce people's risk factors for chronic disease and reduce potential health care complications.


Secretary Thompson has made disease prevention and health promotion a top priority for the department as part of a broader effort to reduce the burden of preventable medical conditions, both in terms of lives affected and health care costs.  In June 2002, he joined President Bush to launch the White House's HealthierUS initiative.


The incidence of diabetes and obesity among Americans are up sharply in the past decade, putting millions more Americans at higher risk for heart disease, stroke and other related medical conditions.  Diabetes alone costs the nation nearly $100 billion each year in direct medical costs as well as indirect economic costs, including disability, missed work and premature death.  Medical studies have shown that modest lifestyle changes -- such as getting more exercise and losing weight -- can reduce an individual's risks for developing these serious health conditions.


"Not only do these preventable diseases take a terrible toll on the lives of individual Americans, but they also contribute to skyrocketing health care costs affecting our nation as a whole," Secretary Thompson said.  "We must do more to encourage individual Americans to take personal responsibility for their health choices and to create a sense of social responsibility to ensure that policymakers support the kinds of programs that foster healthy activity and prevention."


"Steps to a Healthier US" includes specific prevention goals for the fiscal year -- preventing diabetes for at least 75,000 Americans, preventing obesity for at least 100,000 Americans and preventing asthma-related hospitalizations for at least 50,000 Americans.  HHS will rely on existing and expanded surveillance efforts to assess the new initiative's

effectiveness at helping Americans to prevent disease and achieve good health.


"It's disturbing to see that the number of Americans suffering from chronic diseases continues to go up each year," Secretary Thompson said. "The reason they are going up is very simple: We don't take care of ourselves. And by not taking care of ourselves, we are paying for it, both with our health and from our pocketbooks."


The initiative represents an expansion of HHS' $25 million Healthy Communities initiative, which President Bush and Secretary Thompson proposed as part of the fiscal year 2003 budget request.  This increase, included in the request for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), will be closely coordinated with existing diabetes, asthma, and obesity prevention programs at CDC.  The expanded effort will involve five HHS agencies -- CDC, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), the Administration on Aging (AoA) and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

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