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Program Overview

CDC's Healthy Communities Program is engaging communities and collaborating with national networks to focus on chronic disease prevention. Communities are working to change the places and organizations that touch people’s lives every day—schools, work sites, health care sites, and other community settings—to turn the tide on the national epidemic of chronic diseases.

Today, chronic diseases affect almost 50% of Americans and account for 7 of the 10 leading causes of death in the United States. Chronic diseases and conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, obesity, and arthritis cause suffering and limitations to daily functioning. Preventable health risk factors such as tobacco use and exposure, insufficient physical activity, and poor nutrition contribute greatly to the development and severity of many chronic diseases. The Healthy Communities Program is helping to prevent chronic diseases by working to reduce health risk factors and attain health equity.

CDC, local and state health departments, national organizations with extensive reach into communities, and a wide range of community leaders and groups are collaborating to activate and spread local changes to support good health across the United States (see Healthy Communities Program's National Networks for Community Change and Investments in Communities).

The Healthy Communities Program's Action Institutes and Training provide a springboard for community action in the areas of health-related environmental change strategies through Action Institutes, conference calls, and other technical assistance. Webinars and other online training methods are under development. The Community Health Resources Database, the CHANGE assessment tool, and a variety of Action Guides for implementing effective strategies are Tools for Community Action that enable community leaders to more efficiently and effectively bring about improvements in community health.

CDC has a long history of investing in communities to improve health. Since 2003, CDC's Healthy Communities Program (formerly known as the Steps Program) has made a concerted investment in chronic disease prevention at the local level, resulting in impressive outcomes. Communities have responded with a groundswell of energy, ideas, and the will to make the local changes needed to reverse trends in the chronic disease burden. See Evaluation and Accomplishments for success stories across community settings and for information on Healthy Communities Program’s methods for program monitoring and evaluation.