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World Health Day -- April 7, 1999

"Healthy Aging, Healthy Living -- Start Now!" is the theme in the United States for World Health Day, April 7, 1999. This day will focus on the health issues of older adults. In the United States, the proportion of adults aged greater than or equal to 65 years has tripled since 1900. During this same period, U.S. residents aged greater than or equal to 85 years have increased 31-fold. By 2030, when the last of the "baby-boom" generation reaches age 65 years, adults aged greater than or equal to 65 years will account for 20% of the U.S. population (1).

Increased longevity reflects successes achieved by public health and medical care during the 20th century. Although the aging population poses substantial challenges, older persons can improve their quality of life substantially and delay disability by following healthful lifestyle strategies (2,3). Healthful lifestyle choices (e.g., regular physical activity, good nutrition, and avoidance of smoking and overuse of alcohol) are more important than genetic factors in contributing to healthy aging (2). These choices can help aging persons avoid deterioration and dependency. Moreover, it is almost never too late to adopt healthful lifestyle habits.

The United Nations has proclaimed October 1, 1998-December 31, 1999, as the International Year of Older Persons (IYOP). Federal agencies are working together to sponsor IYOP activities. CDC will publish a special MMWR Surveillance Summary during 1999 describing the critical public health issues facing older adults in the United States.

The World Health Day Advisory Committee coordinates World Health Day activities in the United States. Additional information about special events and resource materials about World Health Day 1999 is available from the American Association for World Health, 1825 K Street, N.W., Suite 1208, Washington, DC 20006; telephone (202) 466-5883; e-mail:; or from the World-Wide Web, .


  1. American Association of Retired Persons, Bureau of the Census, and Administration on Aging. A profile of older Americans. Washington, DC: American Association of Retired Persons, Bureau of the Census, and Administration on Aging, 1998.

  2. Rowe JW, Kahn RL. Successful aging. New York: Pantheon Books, 1998.

  3. Vita AJ, Terry RB, Hubert HB, Fries JF. Aging, health risks, and cumulative disability. N Engl J Med 1998;338:1035-41.

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