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Benefits of Community Health

Working at the community level to promote healthy living and prevent chronic disease brings the greatest health benefits to the greatest number of people in need. It also helps to reduce health gaps caused by differences in race and ethnicity, location, social status, income, and other factors that can affect health.

Chronic Disease: A Significant Public Health Threat

Chronic diseases—like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer—are leading causes 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 disease.
  • For every $1 spent on health care, 75 cents is spent on chronic disease and factors that increase their risk.

Chronic diseases and their risk factors affect some racial and ethnic groups more than others. 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

CDC’s Division of Community Health (DCH) funds programs that help communities promote healthy behaviors where Americans live, learn, work, and play. The goal is to make lasting changes that reduce the major risk factors for chronic disease—tobacco use, lack of physical activity, and unhealthy eating.

Read more about current and past DCH programs:

A community approach to healthy living can have broader effects than the efforts of people working on their own to make healthy changes. For example, DCH awardee communities have:

  • Provided healthier food options in schools, churches, and hospitals and at local government events for more than 13.5 million Americans in 20 communities.
  • Increased sidewalks, bike lanes, and other forms of active transportation for nearly 33 million Americans in 18 communities.

Together, DCH community health programs reach hundreds of millions of Americans. And those Americans will live healthier, longer lives.

DCH programs offer funding support for community health efforts, but any community can take steps to make healthy living easier for its residents.