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Benefits of Community Health

Chronic Disease: A Significant Public Health Threat

Chronic diseases are a leading cause of death and disability in the United States:

  • Half of all adults in the United States have a chronic disease.
  • 1 in 3 Americans has high blood pressure.
  • 2 million heart attacks and strokes occur each year.
  • 7 out of 10 deaths among Americans are caused by chronic illness.
  • Of our $2.5 trillion annual health care spending, 75% is focused on chronic disease.

Some racial and ethnic groups bear a heavier burden when it comes to chronic diseases and associated risk factors. For example, non-Hispanic blacks have the highest rates of obesity and are more likely than whites to have heart disease.

Community Health: Lasting Solutions for Disease Prevention and Health Promotion

Addressing healthy living and chronic disease prevention at the community level is designed to bring the greatest health benefits to the greatest number of people in need. In addition, it aims to target efforts that can reach groups experiencing a greater burden as a result of racial and ethnic disparities, including social, economic, and geographic determinants of health.

Through our programs—Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW), Community Transformation Grants (CTG), Healthy Communities Program (HCP), and Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH)—communities are building momentum for healthy behaviors where Americans work, live, learn, and play. The goal is to achieve lasting improvements that address the major risk factors for chronic disease—tobacco, physical inactivity, and unhealthy eating.

A community approach to healthy living can have farther-reaching effects than the efforts of individuals working on their own to make healthy changes. We have seen the evidence. For example, our CPPW program has:

  • Provided healthier food options within schools, churches, and hospitals and at local government events for more than 13.5 million Americans in 20 communities.
  • Increased access to sidewalks, bike lanes, and other mixed-use options for nearly 33 million Americans in 18 communities.

Collectively, our community health programs are reaching hundreds of millions of Americans who, as a result, will live healthier, longer lives.

DCH-funded programs provide a foundation for community health efforts, but any community can take steps to make healthy living easier for its residents.